Tags: Singer | Fed | policy | monetary

Elliott Management's Singer: US Economy Is Steered By a Ship of Fools

By John Morgan   |   Tuesday, 04 Feb 2014 09:05 AM

While the Washington, D.C., establishment looks the other way and pretends calamity is not around the corner, the Federal Reserve has been doubling down on all of the perilous risks that caused the 2008 financial meltdown, says hedge fund titan Paul Singer, principal of Elliott Management.

Singer is decidedly not a fan of quantitative easing (QE) or other Fed policies that have artificially plumped up asset prices.

In his January letter obtained by ZeroHedge, Singer says the impact of government monetary policy has grown so "manipulative and large" that it is nearly impossible to predict the direction of financial markets in 2014.

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"Because the dominant force in securities price movements today is government policy, particularly the governmental buying of bonds and stocks, there is a vulnerability to all trading and investment prospects that cannot be assessed or measured with confidence," he writes.

According to Singer, it is as if U.S. economic leadership — including brand-new Fed Chair Janet Yellen — blithely ignored the warning signs in 2008 and has learned nothing since.

"The lack of introspection at the Treasury, the Fed, Congress, the White House and other regulatory bodies is astounding. Instead of taking reasonable and conservative steps to strengthen the financial system and to reach consensus on what is necessary to generate growth, there has been a series of cronyist, ideological, punitive steps that have neither catalyzed the growth that this country needs nor made financial institutions safe," he explains

"At the same time, the administration has allowed (and encouraged) the Fed to carry the ball all by itself, heaping praise on it for saving the world at the very time that the White House is shirking its own responsibilities."

Singer believes the Fed has been boxed in by its ultra-loose monetary policy, and that efforts to taper the economic stimulus of its massive asset purchases could cause a global recession.

"Intelligent captains sail uncharted waters with extra caution and high alert; only fools think that each mile they sail without sinking the vessel further demonstrates that they are wise and the naysayers were fools," he quips.

"The crash of 2008 should have been smoking-gun evidence of the folly of this approach, but every mistake leading up to the crash, especially excessive and 'invisible' leverage and interest rates that were too low, has been doubled down upon in the years since."

Morgan Stanley's Erskine Bowles, former co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, tells CNBC it is urgent more stringent steps be taken to cut the huge federal debt service now costing $230 billion annually.

"If interest rates were to return to a median level they were in the 1990s, we'd be spending not $230 billion a year but $650 billion a year," he warns.

"When you think about it, that's $650 billion that will be spent, principally in those countries we're borrowing money from, to educate their kids, to improve their infrastructure, to do the high value-added research on their college campuses, so the next new thing is created over there."

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