March 05, 2006
The Plunge Protection Team Intervention Risk Indicator
by Robert McHugh
For the past several years, we have seen repeated "out of the blue" short-covering rallies just about the time a decline seems to be gaining some momentum. Our suspicion has been that the "Working Group" established by law in 1988 to buy markets should declines get out of control has become far more interventionist than was originally intended under the law. This group has since been dubbed the Plunge Protection Team. There are no minutes of meetings, no recorded phone conversations, no reports of activities, no announcements of intentions. It is a secret group including the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Head of the SEC, and their surrogates which include some of the large Wall Street firms. The original objective was to prevent disastrous market crashes. Lately it seems, they buy markets when they decide markets need to be bought, including equity markets. Their main resource is the money the Fed prints. The money is injected into markets via the New York Fed's Repo desk, which easily showed up in the M-3 numbers, warning intervention was nigh.
This past November, the Fed announced with little comment and no palatable explanation that it would no longer report the M-3 number after March 2006. It is now almost March 2006. Without the useful resource of M-3, we need to find other tools to monitor when the PPT is likely to intervene, and kill shorts..........................