Crescenzi On Tracking The Inflection Point In The Radioactive Hyperinflationary "Yucca Mountain" Excess Liquidity Warehouse

Tyler Durden's picture

PIMCO's Tony Crescenzi is out with his latest summary of US monetary conditions. Nothing revolutionary, just a good solid theoretical summary of what to look for in anticipation of the "massive monetary madness" turn. Crescenzi likens the trillion in excess reserves to a "Yucca Mountain" of toxic, hyperinflationary "nuclear waste" storage, and suggests the following approach for tracking the inflection point: "when banks begin to utilize their excess reserves to make new loans and
create new money rather than store the reserves in “Yucca Mountain,”
the case will then grow for the Fed to begin removing the reserves. This
has not happened yet, but when the process begins it will be
evident from the Fed’s weekly H.8 report on the assets and liabilities
of commercial banks." None of this is new for Fed watchers. As usual what we enjoy the most are the historical anecdotes of hyperinflation, the same way in ten years, historians will put America in the same case study: "History is laden with failed attempts at creating new money to shed
debt. Greek tyrant Dionysius of Syracuse, now Sicily, at around 400 B.C.
resorted to coinage debasement when his fortunes declined. Germany, of
course, debased its currency before World War II, leading to
hyperinflation. More recently, Zimbabwe printed massive amounts of
currency, also leading to hyperinflation – I purchased trillions of
Zimbabwe dollars on eBay for a few U.S. dollars! Such are the ravages of
excessive use of the printing press." Certainly worth the read.

Yucca Mountain

  • When the concrete cracks and banks start lending again, the Fed must remove the toxins through reverse repos, rate hikes. 
  • The ECB must walk a fine line between fiscal and monetary policy,
    maintaining a 1% policy rate while monitoring inflation expectations.
  • Emerging markets will see normalization of stimulus; tightening monetary policy, fiscal consolidation, currency appreciation.  

McCulley, a minister’s son, said in January 2000 in his first regularly
produced PIMCO publication on central banking – then titled Fed Focus – the following:

“The job of a Fedwatcher is very similar to that of the
theologian: Identifying the dogmas and catechisms of the secular god of
money creation, and within that paradigm of understanding, forecasting
feasts and famines for particular asset classes.”

It is said that the more times change, the more they stay the same.
Times certainly have changed, but Paul’s words ring as true today as
ever: Forecasting the ultimate performance of particular asset classes
requires investors to do far more than put their money to the wind and
pray; above many other influences they must understand the many ways
that central banks influence the behavior of economies and markets. The
adage “Don’t fight the Fed” therefore remains powerful advice to heed.

Still, there is much more that investors must do if they are to
successfully guard and grow their capital. In particular, investors must
see the world through new eyes, because the world of finance in a
decade has been turned upside down – the sources of global economic
growth and the seat of financial power have made a titanic shift away
from the developed world. Thus it behooves investors today to drop their
home bias and scour the globe for sources of value and investment
opportunities. This requires investors to expand their view of the world
of central banking beyond the Federal Reserve to include analyses of
the policies and activities of the rest of the world’s central banks,
because, as Paul noted in his first edition of the renamed Global Central Bank Focus in May 2006, “Fed policy is no longer the sole straw stirring the global liquidity drink.”

New Levers and the Ravages of Coinage

influence of the world’s central banks on the capital markets remains as
strong as ever. Today, central bankers are not just referees of the
capital markets, they are also players; they are price setters. This is
true in particular of the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank,
and the Bank of England, each of which has engaged in securities
purchase programs to battle the financial crisis.

As new as the influence of central banks on asset prices seems, is it
really new? Have central bankers only recently learnt the power of
pulling the monetary lever or did they merely find more levers? The
answer is certainly the latter; those with the power to print money have
for centuries held influence over the populace. This was true well
before there were central banks and it reminds us of the dangers of
turning to coinage – or at least today’s electronic version of it – as a
means of shedding debt.

History is laden with failed attempts at creating new money to shed
debt. Greek tyrant Dionysius of Syracuse, now Sicily, at around 400 B.C.
resorted to coinage debasement when his fortunes declined. Germany, of
course, debased its currency before World War II, leading to
hyperinflation. More recently, Zimbabwe printed massive amounts of
currency, also leading to hyperinflation – I purchased trillions of
Zimbabwe dollars on eBay for a few U.S. dollars! Such are the ravages of
excessive use of the printing press.

The Monetary Trilemma

The consequences of the
debasing of currencies have been readily transparent for ages. Yet, in
one form or another, nations in the developed world are resorting to
their virtual printing presses to revive their economic fortunes. In the
United States, the Federal Reserve has used its authority to engage in
the purchase of roughly $2 trillion of financial assets, an activity
that increases the quantity of bank reserves, the money that banks use
to expand the money supply – to increase coinage, in other words. This,
in theory, puts at risk the purchasing power of the U.S. dollar. The
hyperbole over stripping the Fed of its independence therefore is just
that, leaving the Fed able to continue its efforts to reflate the U.S.
economy, but also creating risk for the U.S. dollar.

In the U.S. and in the rest of the world, nations face a trilemma,
where one objective must be sacrificed in order to achieve the other
two. Here are their choices:

  • Monetary policy independence
  • Exchange rate stability
  • Free flow of capital

Owing to its large budget deficit, the U.S. cannot sacrifice capital
mobility, because it needs funding. As mentioned, no sacrifice of
monetary policy independence is in the offing – certainly not to any
foreign entity and not to the fiscal authority, either. This means the
U.S. has chosen to sacrifice exchange rate stability.

The European Central Bank (ECB) is engaging in quasi-fiscal transfers
by purchasing the sovereign debts of peripheral Europe. The purchases
result in excess liquidity in Europe’s banking system and at the same
time contaminate the ECB’s balance sheet, risking the purchasing power
of the euro. Having selected monetary policy independence and capital
mobility, Europe too is therefore sacrificing exchange rate stability.
Internally, Europe’s periphery has actually had to sacrifice two
objectives: independent monetary policy and exchange rate stability.
Europe faces a particularly daunting challenge trying to balance between
its so-called fiscal and monetary corridors, as Ben Emons describes in
his section (below).

On the opposite end of the spectrum, nations with surplus funds –
which in today’s upside-down world include China, Brazil, South Korea
and Russia, to name a few – wish to control the growth of their
surpluses in order to keep economic activity from increasing too rapidly
and inciting inflation. In other words, surplus nations are choosing to
sacrifice capital mobility for the ability to keep monetary policy
independence and exchange rate stability. Lupin Rahman describes in her
section (below) how policymakers within the emerging markets will
contend with the monetary trilemma in the year ahead.

In game theory, in a non-cooperative game such as the trilemma above,
each of the participants acts out of self-interest, resulting in big
winners and losers. In today’s multi-speed world, central bankers are
for the most part acting unilaterally, serving their own interests. For
the foreign exchange markets, the investment implications are fairly
obvious – indebted nations must sacrifice exchange rate stability if
they are to correct the imbalances they have with the rest of the world.
For the interest rate markets, efforts by indebted nations to reflate
their economies will eventually erode the value of money, thus posing
risk for holders of long-term government securities.

Concrete Casks and Yucca Mountain

understand well the relationship between supply and price because in
their hobby of collecting coins, the quantity of a particular coin
relative to demand affects its price a great deal. Notaphilists are the same, only their familiarity comes from the collection of paper currencies. Scripophilists understand the relationship, too, from their experience in collecting paper stock and bond certificates. Philatelists
– stamp collectors – know a thing or two about the laws of supply and
demand, too. An understanding of the basic relationship between supply
and price is what prevents, say, a numismatist from being fooled by a
novice who tries to sell him or her for a “song” a copper Chinese coin
that was minted about 1,000 years ago during the Song Dynasty. The
numismatist knows that literally billions of such coins were produced in
the year 1085, for example, in factories across China.

Only Banks Can Create Money Supply

of indebted nations’ currencies depends importantly upon the excessive
creation of money. Today, the deleveraging process is preventing this
from happening. This brings us to a critical point: By themselves,
increases in the quantity of bank reserves resulting from central bank
activities cannot boost the money supply; only banks can create money
To illustrate the point, let’s look at a sample T-account
(that is, a basic two-column accounting table; see Figure 1) for a U.S.
bank and its customer.

ABC Company borrows $20,000 from XYZ Bank, which, like all banks, is
an intermediary between the Fed and the public. Banks, in fact, are the
only entities allowed to offer checking accounts.

As the T-account shows, the immediate effect of the loan is to
increase total demand deposits by $20,000, but no decrease has occurred
in the amount of currency in circulation. Therefore, by making the loan,
XYZ Bank has created $20,000 of new money supply.

The ability of banks to create loans and thus boost the money supply
is what worries those who focus on the quantity of reserves that the
Federal Reserve has injected into the financial system. Roughly $1
trillion of excess reserves sit in the U.S. banking system as a result
of the Fed’s asset-purchase program, which is about $1 trillion more
than normal – banks typically would rather lend their excess reserves
than leave them deposited at the Fed (Figure 2) where they earn next to

In normal times, the banking system can turn one dollar of reserves
into about eight dollars of new money supply, because a bank can lend 90
cents on the dollar after putting 10 cents aside at the Fed for a
reserve requirement. A bank on the receiving end of the 90 cents can
lend out 90% of that, or 81 cents, and so on and so forth until presto:
One dollar becomes eight dollars. This is why the monetary base, which
represents the money, or reserves, injected into the financial system by
the Federal Reserve, is called “high-powered money.”

Bank reserves in their enormous quantities therefore are toxic, but
in the same way that nuclear waste is of no danger so long as it is
tucked away either in Yucca Mountain or concrete casks, bank reserves
are of no danger to fueling inflation so long as they are held at the
Fed. When the concrete cracks – when banks utilize their excess reserves
and lend again – the Fed must remove the toxins, beginning first with
technical operations such as reverse repos, but ultimately ending with
rate hikes. This is the expected sequencing.

The Fed’s Commitment on Rates

Gains in the
real economy by themselves won’t be enough to prompt the Fed to raise
interest rates for quite some time, because the level of economic
activity will remain low relative to the economy’s potential for the
foreseeable future. In order for the Fed to break its commitment on
rates, one of its three conditions for keeping the commitment would have
to change:

  • Low resource utilization (for example, the high unemployment rate)
  • Subdued inflation trends 
  • Stable inflation expectations

Only the third condition has the potential to change in any
meaningful way this year, because the unemployment rate is almost
certain to remain high and as a result inflation will stay low.
Inflation expectations could nonetheless become less stable if,
following many months (six, at least) of strong employment gains and/or
gains in bank lending, the Fed indicates it has no plans over the medium
term to reduce its degree of accommodation. A less-stable level of
inflation expectations would occur at levels above the long-term trend
of around 2.50% for 10-year TIPS (Treasury Inflation-Protected
Securities), say when inflation expectations reach 2.75% on a sustained
basis and trending higher, and at around 3.25% and trending higher for
the 5-year/5-year (the level at which market participants expect
five-year inflation expectations to be in five years).

The Forward Curve Will Be Right… Someday

has paid for many quarters now to bet against interest rate hikes
embedded in forward rates. Extant in the forward curve implied by
Eurodollar futures are Fed rate hikes priced to occur as early as the
end of this year. If economic activity accelerates in the way that many
expect, increases in forward rates in 2011 will be associated more often
with increased speculation about rate hikes than was the case in 2010.
The emphasis here is on the word “speculation” – the market is almost
certain to romance the idea of a hike well before an actual hike occurs.
This is a bit different than in 2010 when the cause of increase in spot
and forward money market rates was nearly always concern over credit
conditions rather than concern about either liquidity or increased
speculation about future Fed rate hikes. There was only one occasion, in
April, when speculation about future rate hikes intensified, but the
speculation was mild. Decisions in 2011 about whether the forwards will
be validated need be taken with a bit more care than in 2010 owing to
the strengthening of the U.S. economy, but the base case is that there
will be no rate hikes.

As I said, when banks begin to utilize their excess reserves to make
new loans and create new money rather than store the reserves in “Yucca
Mountain,” the case will then grow for the Fed to begin removing the
reserves. This has not happened yet (Figure 3), but when the process
begins it will be evident from the Fed’s weekly H.8 report on the assets
and liabilities of commercial banks.

We Will Know It When We See It

Paul McCulley
faced in January 2000, as Fedwatchers constantly do, a question over
when the Fed might begin to reverse its interest rate policy. He
presciently described the endgame for that era, expecting it to unwind
in four stages, concluding that short rates would “reach a sufficiently
high level to ‘crash’ stocks,” thereby weakening the economy and
“ushering a reversal to Fed easing.” How right he was: The Fed hiked
rates until May 2000 and the financial bubble burst.

Paul said in his article that he didn’t know when the events he
predicted would happen, but he reminded readers that PIMCO is paid to
“know it when we see it.” In this vein, when we at PIMCO are asked when
the Fed will reverse its current stance on interest rate policy, we will
echo Paul’s words and say that we will know “it” when we see it. We
plan to earn our pay.

Across the Pond and Around the World

let’s turn to my PIMCO colleagues for discussions on central banking in
Europe and the emerging markets. Comments from PIMCO experts throughout
the world will be a regular feature of future editions of the Global Central Bank Focus.

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Cognitive Dissonance's picture

"Yeah but........without wage increases there is no inflation."

Steve Liesman

patience...'s picture

He should have said     without wage increases there is no hyper-inflation.

jdrose1985's picture

There is something the author forgot to factor into his reasoning.


The cash dropping helicopter he has spent the last ten years waiting for is still on the ground where it will stay until the bond markets basically starve the USG.

SheepDog-One's picture

OH right, suddenly when the banksters want it there will just be a huge demand for new loans. I see.

umop episdn's picture

And such demand will come from the exact same places that it came from during the housing bubble--people who can't pay back $5 will be more than happy to borrow $500,000. Then, the banksters do their 'wounded birdie' act and get our 'lected LOLz representatives to scroom the taxpayers again.

jdrose1985's picture

The so called subprime loans was just the bankers scraping the bottom of the barrel. US consumers were manufacturing roughly $11B per day. The consumer would have to surpass that number to resume the path to infinity. Do you really think that is going to happen? You are witnessing the slow death grind of the Bretton Woods system. Last time this happened China ended up a smoldering rubble pile along with 90% of the rest of the world. Nothing new is happening.

financeguru500's picture

You are absolutely correct. I find it interested how angry people get on these forums. The U.S. so far has been successfully exporting inflation to other countries, hence the riots erupting around the world.

Interestingly enough China is allowing the U.S. to do this.

I believe the bigger battle is for energy. Right now there is a cold war for oil being fought between the U.S. and China. As long as both parties keep the circus music playing the grabs for resources can continue.

The inevitable end will not be an economic crash but an energy crash. Mark my words. The U.S. will be allowed to keep printing money because it allows China to keep buying resources. If the U.S. economy crashes then the world crashes which would slow down China from buying up resources.

The only thing that will stop the current path is to have oil consumption rise above production.

bonddude's picture

Man the wheelbarrows. I'm going shopping for a loaf of bread. Here's Hillary Clinton on Sonoma bank fraud-more on u2b

Shareholders lawsuit

Commander Cody's picture

By the way, there is no toxic waste in Yucca Mountain and there probably will never be due to the political deal cut between Harry Reid and BO.  Storage of used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste created by defense activities has now been relegated to the Whim Department by the short-sightedness of the criminals in DC.  Carry on.

JR's picture

January 25, 2011 -- Axel Leijonhufvud argues that political independence of central banks is "impossible to defend in a democratic society":

Shell game: Zero-interest policies as hidden subsidies to banks, by Axel Leijonhufvud, Vox EU: The two pioneers of modern monetary economics – Irving Fisher and Knut Wicksell – were passionately concerned to find monetary arrangements that would insure against arbitrary redistributions of income and wealth. They saw such distributive effects as offenses against social justice and consequently as a threat to social and political stability. 

Fisher and Wicksell thought that price level stability was a sufficient condition for avoiding distributive effects. In this they were in error. A hundred years later, the motivating concern for their work has long since disappeared from monetary economics.

But the error survives. For example:

·         The Fed is supplying the banks with reserves at a near-zero rate. Not much results in bank lending to business, but banks can buy Treasuries that pay 3% to 4%.

·         This hefty subsidy to the banking system is ultimately borne by taxpayers. Neither the subsidy, nor the tax liability has been voted for by Congress.

The Fed policy drives down the interest rates paid to savers to some small fraction of 1%. At the same time, banks leverage their capital by a factor of 15 or so, thus earning a truly outstanding return from buying Treasuries with costless Fed money or very nearly costless deposits.

Wall Street bankers are then able once again to claim the bonuses they became used to in the good old days and to which they feel entitled because of the genius required to perform this operation. These bonuses are in effect transfers from tax-payers as well as from the mostly aged savers who cannot find alternative safe placements for their funds in retirement.

The shell game: “Now you see it, now you don’t.”

The Fed’s low-interest-rate policy has turned into a shell game for the general public who are unable to follow how the money flows from losers to gainers.

·         The bailouts of the banks during the crisis were clear for all to see and caused widespread outrage; now the public is being told that they are being repaid at no cost to the taxpayer.

·         What the public is not told is that the repayments come to a substantial extent out of revenues paid by taxpayers for the banks to hold Treasuries.

·         Both parties supported the bailouts so neither party seems ready to protest the claim that they are being repaid at no cost to taxpayers.

The goals of monetary policy

Present monetary policy achieves two aims.

·         One is to recapitalize the banks and to do so without the government taking an equity stake.

The authorities do not want to be charged with “nationalization” or “socialism.” So the banks have to be given the funds outright. Economists have agonized a lot lately about the zero lower bound to the interest rate as an obstacle to effective policy in the present circumstances. The agony seems misplaced. As long as the big banks are to be subsidized, why not just pay them to accept reserves from the friendly central bank?

·         The second aim, of course, is to prevent the housing bubble from deflating all the way.

In this respect, the policy has had some effect. Homeowners whose houses are not “under water” can often refinance at long-term rates around 5% and sometimes even lower. 

Miscalculation of economic values: Who pays?

Any financial crash reveals a large, collective miscalculation of economic values. The incidence of the losses resulting from such miscalculations has to be worked out before the economy can begin to function normally again. Because the process of a crash is unstable, it cannot be left for the markets and bankruptcy courts to work out the eventual incidence. In the present case, doing so would simply have led into another Great Depression.

This means political choices have to be made to determine who bears the losses from this collective miscalculation. Obviously such choices are terribly difficult. Yet, temporizing can prolong the period of subnormal economic performance indefinitely – as the history of Japan over the last 20 years illustrates. The shell game, as presently played, is in effect an attempt to settle a large part of the incidence problem “under the radar” of public opinion.

The risks of this quiet bank subsidy

Quite apart from its distributional effects, the policy is not without risk.

·         To the extent that it succeeds in inducing the banks to load up on long-term, low-yield assets, a return to more normal rates will spell another round of banking troubles.

If the US were to suffer years of slow deflation, a return to higher rates will be long postponed. At present, strong deflationary pressures are kept at bay by equally strong inflationary policies. If the US escapes the Japanese syndrome, the Fed will sooner or later have to raise rates to stem inflation or to defend the dollar.

Central Bank independence?

For the last 20 or 30 years, political independence of central banks has been a popular idea among academic economists and, of course, heartily endorsed by central bankers. Such independence has not been much in evidence in the recent crisis. But central banks would very much like to restore their independence.

The independence doctrine, however, is predicated on the distributional neutrality of their policies. Once it is realized that monetary policy can have all sorts of distributional effects, the independence doctrine becomes impossible to defend in a democratic society.

Posted by Mark Thoma on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 01:08 AM

Dollar Bill Hiccup's picture

As I've said and will continue to say, until I'm Green in the face (I'm Dollar Bill after all) is that the FED does not want the banks to lend. The banks are in the Greenwich Country Day sandbox, sipping champagne, eating caviar and earning a risk free return on US agency and Treasuries, plus the limited Shenanigans creeping back onto trading desks. Recapitalize the banks on the taxpayer's dime is the game. This is buying time since the economy itself needs to be retooled, the latest iteration being an unmitigated disaster (consumer of last resort which nearly consumed itself). The problem remains that the rest of the world not wealthy enough to pick up aggregate demand that the US can no longer sustain. Who is the US going to export to, Chinese peasants who make $2000 a year? The Irish? No, US Corporations are setting up shop in China, or Ireland in order to avoid US Labor costs and taxation. So GM is selling cars in China, but what's good for GM may no longer have much to do with America, unless you own the stock.

Obama's shining future is devoid of substance. Difficult choices need to be made. Powerful lobbies, just like unions, need to be broken. US Corporations cannot simply profit from the US military shield unless they employ those same Americans who they are currently outsourcing. I do not think that BO has the cajones to pull this off. The discontent voiced through the Tea Party is only the beginning of what is required. And by this, I by no means subscribe to the puerile fascination with insurrection. Political insurrection against the yoke of apathy, yes. And insurrection against the apathy that abject materialism commands, even more so.

One can make less, have less and live a better life but one cannot do this with no job and no prospects.

Crassus's picture

Amen. Pissed that the Zimbabwe Trillion note trumped my old Yugo 500 billion dinar.

JR's picture

Thank you for the excellent comment and analysis!   

Yes, Americans have been the consumers of last resort and the taxpayers have been the victims of the first and last resort.  But it can now be said that the owners of the NY Federal Reserve Bank, acting as the thieves of last resort, are playing their final trump cards before the economy turns against them. 

The fellow travelers with the Fed—hedge funds, insurance titans, military-industrial industries and many more—are benefiting greatly by the redistribution of value from American citizens. When the real economy begins to bite back, these fellow travelers will suffer and suffer hard, signaling, IMO, an end to the shell game. A 12,000 DOW versus extreme unemployment and underemployment and a nationwide theft of one of the most valuable commodities to American citizens—their home equity—are proof of the transfer of America’s economic well being to the obscenely rich investment bankers, headed by the Rothschild-controlled NY Federal Reserve.

Non-monopolistic free markets work; socialism and financial tyranny do not.

Geoff-UK's picture

Or we could see a return to serfdom.

Misean's picture

"As I said, when banks begin to utilize their excess reserves to make new loans and create new money rather than store the reserves in “Yucca Mountain,” the case will then grow for the Fed to begin removing the reserves."

Yeah...see, that's gonna be a real problem, because the Feral has only the most overpriced POMO crap that it WAY overpaid for, and toxic sludge that isn't worth a few pennies compared to what the Feral traded for it to "mop up" those excess reserves, should they leak out of the mountain...

Stuck on Zero's picture

The Feds can never raise interest rates.  Period.  Just as in Japan, there is so much Federal debt that raising interests rates would require the Treasury to hand over the entire Federal budget to pay the interest.  It isn't going to happen.  The only way to clear the debt at this point (without bankruptcy) is default and reissuance of a new currency.

Printfaster's picture

The only way out is for the Fed to print faster.

Geoff-UK's picture

If we can just...get...the printing presses up to...88...miles per hour...

hugolp's picture

It was an interesting reading until:

Only Banks Can Create Money Supply

Debasement of indebted nations’ currencies depends importantly upon the excessive creation of money. Today, the deleveraging process is preventing this from happening. This brings us to a critical point: By themselves, increases in the quantity of bank reserves resulting from central bank activities cannot boost the money supply; only banks can create money supply.

Its not true. Government spending financed by monetization is also a way to increase the money supply in the market.

Missing this point is a big mistake.

davepowers's picture

in QE 1 the fed took on MBS/GSE paper onto its balance sheet in an outright purchase. It paid for it by simply crediting the selling banks account at the fed with more reserves. That's how the excess reserves got to where they were at the peak of the chart in March 2010.

So, IF the banks aren't withdrawing the reserves to loan and aren't loaning against them while they are in place (perhaps that's what they're doing?), then where/how did QE 1 amount to printing? Where was the 'inflationary' impact?

Was QE 1 just aimed at gaining collateral benefits (cleaning bank balance sheets so they could raise capital, benefitting banks by giving them an income stream from the interest paid on reserves in place, and probably more)?

To the extent the FED now shifts QE 2 to crediting reserves (vs what they did in 2010 = borrowing the purchase price from the Treasury), how will that amount to printing if reserves still aren't withdrawn or loaned against? 

Further, a system like QE 1 was a closed loop. Basically just an exchange of assets/liabilities on two sets of balance sheets - the banks and the feds. No money left this loop.

But any QE system that acquires treasury paper requires money to somehow leave the loop. Money that the Treasury will use to run the govt. So, as in 2010, no money left the QE 2 loop. The Treasury sold paper that raised money that was given to the FED who bought treasury paper. At most there was a collateral impact (Treasury sold short paper, Fed bought 3-7 year paper), but otherwise it was a $200 billion closed loop.

Since the SFP is seemingly tapped out, presumably the FED will shift to building reserves to pay for more T paper. Where, in that loop, will money be created, found or invented to allow the Treasury to raise money that it can then spend of all its stuff?

flattrader's picture

Wow davepowers!  You ask difficult questions.

Perhaps some of the brilliant minds here on ZH will attempt to post an answer.

But, don't be surprised if all you hear are crickets.

hammel123's picture

>>Was QE 1 just aimed at gaining collateral benefits

banks turned around and purchased Treasuries, in essence, swapping failing private for "still good" public paper. Treasury spent the proceeds of debt sales to prop up many more outstanding mbs, gse etc..throwing good money after the bad.

QE 2 is similar, Fed prints money, Treasury issues debt, Fed buys Treasuries with newly created money. Has been happening in Japan for decades. Why? In aggregate, you need income (interest) streams continue to come in to support the outstanding stock of paper. Private sector is no longer good for paying, hence government is taking over.

Rotwang's picture

"Money" is also created by private parties when a "contract to pay" is entered into, secured or unsecured. An example would be a 'land-jobber' breaking up a parcel of land into smaller pieces, and holding some of the financing in his own name outside the bona fide 'banking' system. These debts and payment schedules get serviced with the 'official' bank money.

spekulatn's picture

From the DB,


US Panel Blames Banks for '08 Meltdown, but not Central Banks

Free-Market Analysis: We've often indicated that one of the dominant social themes of thepower elite is "Wall Street did it." When it comes to financial meltdowns and the myriad of other disasters that afflict central banking economies, the best defense is perhaps a finger pointed at fatcat bankers and their firms. It worked after the Great Depression and that's been the playbook ever since.

Now comes yet another attempt at casting blame on Wall Street for the 2008 financial crisis (see article excerpt above). Featured yesterday in both the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, the conclusions of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission are right out of the elite playbook. No matter what the economic destruction, the mechanism of central banking must not be blamed. And apparently the Commission has managed to avoid doing so.



Nine Pies's picture

Could the banks, with their digitally increased reserves, simply have invested in Treasuries, thus "earning" a higher return than they owed on the reserves borrowed from the Fed?  If so, there's your loop exit.

davepowers's picture

But the reserves are analogous to your holding a passbook savings account. The money just sits there, an asset to you and a liability to the bank. A dribble of interest is paid thereon.

In order to invest in Treasuries you would need to withdraw money from the savings account, yet per Crescenzi and all the data I've seen, the banks didn't withdraw the excess reserves.

I don't now if this is possible, but could one bank borrow $ from another using the in place reserves as collateral, then purchase treasuries, in effect leveraging their excess reserves. That might provide a loop exit and via the magic of FRL amount to printing.

BUT, the data Crescenzi provides show that bank lending continues to sink albeit at a slower pace.

Or perhaps QE is all collateral or side effects, with little real 'printing.' The biggest collateral impact, maybe the FEDs greatest power, is psychological. People think, assume, believe that the FED is printing and react accordingly.

Like the Wizard of Oz, before the curtain parted.