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Posted in The Politics Of Catastrophe on March 31, 2014
The Federal Reserve plans to scale up its Quantitative Djenting program in the second quarter of 2014, Chairwoman Janet Yellen announced at an appearance before the House Financial Services Committee Monday. “We still predict slack in the economy going into the Summer, so we will continue with the program to try and cut it off at the pass,” said Ms. Yellen.
“Quantitative Djenting”, or “QD,” is a subsidiary initiative of the Fed’s controversial Quantitative Easing program. Since the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008, the Fed has been injecting money into the financial bloodstream to purchase things like treasuries, securities, and mortgage-backed securities. Although meant to stimulate job growth and economic recovery, the program has come under intense scrutiny by critics who claim that the program could lead to inflation, while providing cheap money to Wall Street firms.
Included in the program, but buried in a subsection of dense legalese, was a plan for Quantitative Djenting. “QD” is a rather convoluted financial process whereby the central bank bankrolls recording contracts, studio fees, publicity, merchandising, and tour support for the structured investment vehicle known as “Djent.” As the output of these “bands” tends towards “0000” sub-prime Guitar Riff Derivatives, the Fed was able to achieve synergy with the program by lowering interest rates to near-zero.
“QD was really a response to a financially-strapped metal landscape, following the collapse of the Neo-Thrash and New-Nu-Metal bubbles,” claims Trafferson Foster, of the statistical research firm, Foster & Fosterson Global Markets. “The Fed pretty much caved to pressure from Major and independent labels alike to do something in the wake of the crash.”
Although former chairman Ben Bernanke claimed that QD was never intended to expand beyond its initial investments – which included Wall Street-owned companies like Animals as Leaders, Periphery, Tesseract, and Textures – the subsidiary program has expanded each year since its inception. This has led Wall Street analysts to speak affectionately of “QD-infinity,” which speculates that like a Djent Guitar Riff Derivative product, QD has become so enmeshed in the U.S. financial system that it could seemingly go on forever.
Several prominent economists have become particularly concerned with the evolution of the products that Djent companies are selling. Like credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations, these firms have begun throwing together Guitar Riff Derivatives in baskets, and then selling that packaged basket.
“In practical economic terms, there really isn’t a difference between these Guitar Riff Derivatives and the Collateralized Debt Obligations that brought down the financial system in 2008,” argues Simon Carufsky, president of Fairer Markets, a non-partisan regulatory reform non-profit. “These companies are selling sub-prime 0000 guitar riffs within sub-prime 0000 guitar riffs, within sub-prime 0000 guitar riffs, and then calling that package a AAA-rated security.”
The apportioning of cash to Djent companies works kind of like a bartender pouring a pitcher of beer into five mugs lined up on a bar. The beer in the pitcher is the cash generated from royalty payments that companies like Emmure receive each month, while the mugs represent the different pools of Guitar Riff Derivatives. The bartender fills the highest-rated mug first, then the second highest, and so on down the line until either all five mugs are full or the pitcher runs out of beer. If there are enough defaults on royalty payments, the fifth, fourth, third, or even second mug might go dry – and if writers’ block happens in the studio, even the first mug might not get filled. If the mugs become too dependent on being filled by the pitcher, says Carufsky, then the progression of heavy metal could be brought to a sharp standstill.
“The whole thing is like a financial Inception. It’s absolute insanity, even before you factor in the Fed’s allotment of easy cash to companies like Animals as Leaders.”
Posted in General Weirdness on July 31, 2013
The classic adage “One does not simply drink one beer at a Municipal Waste concert” may have finally run its course; in the process, triggering the worst financial turmoil in months. Yesterday’s Waste show in Pori, Finland yielded a novel sight for the band: a barren bar, no crowd surfing, concert-goers standing completely still when called to form a Wall of Death, and a general air of utter boredom.
“I don’t know how to describe it… I just, like, didn’t have fun, man,” said one attendee.
At the end of the next business day, the NASDAQ lost nearly 1.5% of its value, down to 3099.14, while Dow Jones Industrial Average did not fare much better, falling 1.2% to 13521.97. The crisis, according to Thomson/Reuters, may be contained for the moment – due to the location of the show in Finland, which has a strong manufacturing base that can offset damages to commodity and retail losses from the concert, as well as brighter outlooks for the remainder of the band’s European festival run.
However, music industry pundits and Wall Street bankers alike fear that the effects of the concert could trigger a domino effect that would send ripples throughout the financial system. “Municipal Waste is highly influential in several markets, most notably for commodities like beer, raw materials like wood, plywood, polyester for skateboards and boogie boards, and in clothing markets like those that include jean jackets, bullet belts, and White Nike High Tops,” said a senior analyst at Goldman Sachs, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “There are a lot of traders who are going to buy based on their performances.”
The S&P 500 took the biggest hit, down 1.74% a half-hour before the closing bell.
“There’s been a deluge of market-moving events this week,” said Kleinerman Brigham, chief market strategist for HPL Financial. “Yesterday’s Municipal Waste concert was simply the tipping point, and we’re beginning to see traders react to it.”
Municipal Waste has gone from its underground party-thrash roots to become a major market-shaping force, according to HPL’ research. From January 2003 through August 2013, the correlation between fun had at Municipal Waste concerts and the daily value of the dollar against major U.S. trading partners was -.82. Data available from January 2001 through January 2003 (before the band was signed to Earache Records) shows a correlation between fun had at Municipal Waste concerts and the value of the dollar of -.08. These numbers may seem small, but they have gross consequences. The difference between the two indicates that fun had at Municipal Waste concerts and the value of the dollar tend to have a negative correlation.
“U.S. health and national security is threatened when the value of the dollar is intertwined with fun had at Municipal Waste concerts, which continually feed the U.S. trade deficit,” said J.P. Morgan Chase chief economist Jeremy Johnson. “We need tight regulation of how people enjoy themselves at Waste shows – and we need to do it by setting a cap and floor on fun had, as well as open up new markets for trading allocations of fun, or “fun derivatives”.”
Anti-bank politicians disagree. “Municipal Waste has become a Too Fun To Fail band,” said California congresswoman Elizabeth Boxer. “By no fault of theirs or the governments’ – it was the big banks that allowed the band to become so intertwined with the fate of our economic system.”
This week’s events come at the tail end of a month of bad press for Wall Street. J.P. Morgan has come under ire for manipulating energy prices for thousands of consumers, The New York Times recently released an investigative report about Goldman Sachs’ shady dealings with commodities like aluminum, and nearly every bank is being accused of rigging foreign-exchange FX markets, which play a key role in maintaining currency values.
Brigham sided with Boxer on the issue of regulation versus litigation, while also raising the crisis alarm. “Do I think financial institutions should be held accountable for the losses sustained this week? Should the pension funds for teachers in California, autoworkers in the Rust Belt, and police officers in North Jersey that are going to take the biggest hits be held responsible? Not when the reckless speculation in Municipal Waste-related markets that led to this crisis was done by bankers at the Goldman Sachses of the world. So, yes.”
“This is far from over. Normally Municipal Waste “f**k’s up” its fans. This time, Wall Street may have engineered a system in which the band will “f**k up” five years of economic growth and recovery following the sub-prime mortgage crisis.”
Jari Hjekvik contributed additional reporting from Helsinki.