15 March 2013

Greenspan: No Irrational Exuberance, Stocks 'Undervalued' - The Rake's Progress

“I recognise that there is a stock market bubble problem at this point, and I agree with Governor Lindsey that this is a problem that we should keep an eye on....We do have the possibility of raising major concerns by increasing margin requirements. I guarantee that if you want to get rid of the bubble, whatever it is, that will do it.”

Alan Greenspan, September 24, 1996 FOMC Minutes

"Where a bubble becomes so large as to pose a threat the entire economic system, the central bank may appropriately decide to use monetary policy to counteract a bubble, notwithstanding the effects that monetary tightening might have elsewhere in the economy.

But how do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values, which then become subject to unexpected and prolonged contractions as they have in Japan over the past decade? And how do we factor that assessment into monetary policy? We as central bankers need not be concerned if a collapsing financial asset bubble does not threaten to impair the real economy, its production, jobs, and price stability."

Alan Greenspan, December 5, 1996, Speech to the American Enterprise Institute

"American consumers might benefit if lenders provided greater mortgage product alternatives to the traditional fixed-rate mortgage. To the degree that households are driven by fears of payment shocks but are willing to manage their own interest rate risks, the traditional fixed-rate mortgage may be an expensive method of financing a home."

Alan Greenspan, February 23, 2004, Speech to Credit Union National Association

"Although a "bubble" in home prices for the nation as a whole does not appear likely, there do appear to be, at a minimum, signs of froth in some local markets where home prices seem to have risen to unsustainable levels...

The apparent froth in housing markets may have spilled over into mortgage markets...

Although we certainly cannot rule out home price declines, especially in some local markets, these declines, were they to occur, likely would not have substantial macroeconomic implications."

Alan Greenspan, June 9, 2005, Economic Outlook

"I was aware that the loosening of mortgage credit terms for subprime borrowers increased financial risk. But I believed then, as now, that the benefits of broadened home ownership are worth the risk."

Alan Greenspan, September 2007, The Age of Turbulence

"...the problem at its root is a flawed business model, and that business model is the product of a government regulatory decision to repeal Glass-Steagall administratively and legislatively, and to seek this tremendous concentration of power; and then the abuse of that power by the investment houses...

What we want to do is clean up the system and hold the individuals accountable, and that is what we have tried to do...But there was an understanding that if we were to seek criminal sanctions against either the institution or the most senior people of the institution, the practical impact in our regulatory environment would have been to destroy those institutions, and then structural reform would be meaningless...because the harm to our economy that would result from eliminating a Citigroup or a Merrill Lynch is enormous, and it's disproportionate to the remedy that we want.....

It was incredible. It was distressing to me how simple and outrageous it was. It wasn't so complicated that you said, "Wow, at least they're smart in the way they're doing it." It was simple. It was brazen. The evidence of it was overwhelming. It's just that it hadn't been revealed to the public, and that's why could get away with it...

Over the past decade we've wanted to deregulate, and we've said, "Let's get government out of the business of looking at these issues, and permit industry to control itself, because we can trust them." Maybe that's been a very good thing in some ways.

One of the things that is eminently clear from our investigation is that all the compliance departments, all the self-regulation is nothing. They watched it, but they did nothing. So we've got to think this through, and it's not only the financial community. There are a lot of sectors where we have said self-regulation is the answer. We've got to think about it."

Eliot Spitzer, The Wall Street Fix, March 16, 2003

"The vast majority of privately negotiated OTC contracts are settled in cash rather than through delivery.

Cash settlement typically is based on a rate or price in a highly liquid market with a very large or virtually unlimited deliverable supply, for example, LIBOR or the spot dollar-yen exchange rate.

To be sure, there are a limited number of OTC derivative contracts that apply to nonfinancial underlying assets. There is a significant business in oil-based derivatives, for example. But unlike farm crops, especially near the end of a crop season, private counterparties in oil contracts have virtually no ability to restrict the worldwide supply of this commodity. (Even OPEC has been less than successful over the years.)

Nor can private counterparties restrict supplies of gold, another commodity whose derivatives are often traded over-the-counter, where central banks stand ready to lease gold in increasing quantities should the price rise.

To be sure, a few, albeit growing, types of OTC contracts such as equity swaps and some credit derivatives have a limited deliverable supply. However, unlike crop futures, where failure to deliver has additional significant penalties, costs of failure to deliver in OTC derivatives are almost always limited to actual damages.

There is no reason to believe either equity swaps or credit derivatives can influence the price of the underlying assets any more than conventional securities trading does."

Alan Greenspan, July 24, 1998, Testimony on the Regulation of OTC Derivatives

Hubris has no shame.

Greenspan: No irrational exuberance, stocks undervalued
By Chris Isidore
March 15, 2013

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said that even with record-high stock prices, investors don't need to worry about "irrational exuberance" this time.

In fact, his current view is that stocks are still "significantly undervalued."

Read the entire article here.

Related: Michael Hudson and Pierre Rinfret: The Myth of Alan Greenspan