The Fed's capabilities to engineer changes in economic growth and inflation are asymmetric. It has been historically documented that central bank tools are well suited to fight excess demand and rampant inflation; the Fed showed great resolve in containing the fast price increases in the aftermath of World Wars I and II and the Korean War. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, rampant inflation was again brought under control by a determined and persistent Federal Reserve. However, when an economy is excessively over-indebted and disinflationary factors force central banks to cut overnight interest rates to as close to zero as possible, central bank policy is powerless to further move inflation or growth metrics. The periods between 1927 and 1939 in the U.S. (and elsewhere), and from 1989 to the present in Japan, are clear examples of the impotence of central bank policy actions during periods of over-indebtedness. Four considerations suggest the Fed will continue to be unsuccessful in engineering increasing growth and higher inflation with their continuation of the current program of Large Scale Asset Purchases (LSAP)...
Stunning Facts that Your History, Economics and Business Teachers Never Learned ...
If you listen to TV commentators, you’ve been told the worst is behind us. Growth is picking up, and Europe is coming out of its slumber. No one seems to be concerned that this tepid below-2-percent growth is being entirely fed by the central bank’s massive money printing. It’s a “growth at any price” policy. How quickly we forget. We currently fear Fed tapering, as we should. Yet, we should be even more fearful that it doesn’t taper. Today, we really have a dreaded choice of losing an arm now or two arms and a leg tomorrow. Because the price distortions have been massive, the adjustment will be horrendous. Government policy makers and government economists simply do not understand the critical role of prices in helping discovery and coordination.
Almost 3 years ago we noted the oddly hubris-full confidence of Ben Bernanke of his ability to "exit" from the experimental extreme monetary policies:
"You have what degree of confidence in your ability to control this?" Bernanke: One hundred percent.
But last night we got the truth from Fed's Dudley, who more realistically stated:
Dudley: "Exit from these unconventional set of policies is certainly feasible... But we do have to be a bit humble about what we don’t know."
So which is it? Who do you believe?
Much attention has fallen on the Fed's recent announcement that a new fixed-rate, full-allotment overnight reverse repo facility is in the works (so much so that both shadow banking experts Singh and Stella have opined on the issue). It appears that despite the Fed's "best efforts" at communication, not enough clarity has been shed on the topic. So here is Bill Dudley's explanation.
As it turns out, a lot... and also very little.
Even as JPMorgan seems set to put its London Whale troubles behind it with a nearly $1 billion imminent settlement, while at the same time throwing two mid-level traders at NY prosecutors and washing its hands of the whole tempest in a teapot affair, a curious snag has appeared. The CFTC, which in the past has never had a problem with promptly settling any market manipulation abuse with any bank in exchange for a small cash-greased slap on the hand, is suddenly a sticking point in JPM's ability to just walk away from the biggest prop trading Snafu in history. As WSJ reports, "the CFTC is focusing on the bank's increasingly aggressive trades made over several months early last year, when it added tens of billions of dollars to its derivatives positions—contracts tied to investment-grade corporate bonds, these people say. The CFTC is likely to use new powers granted by the Dodd-Frank law that allow it to charge firms for recklessly manipulating markets, say people familiar with the agency's thinking."
Amid the 100 year anniversary of the creation of the Federal Reserve, it is absolutely imperative that the American people understand that the Fed is at the very heart of our economic problems. It is a system of money that was created by the bankers and that operates for the benefit of the bankers. The American people like to think that we have a "democratic system", but there is nothing "democratic" about the Federal Reserve. Unelected, unaccountable central planners from a private central bank run our financial system and manage our economy. There is a reason why financial markets respond with a yawn when Barack Obama says something about the economy, but they swing wildly whenever Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke opens his mouth. The Federal Reserve has far more power over the U.S. economy than anyone else does by a huge margin. The Fed is the biggest Ponzi scheme in the history of the world, and if the American people truly understood how it really works, they would be screaming for it to be abolished immediately. The following are 25 fast facts about the Federal Reserve that everyone should know...
"A broad-based tax cut, for example, accommodated by a program of open-market purchases to alleviate any tendency for interest rates to increase, would almost certainly be an effective stimulant to consumption and hence to prices. Even if households decided not to increase consumption but instead re-balanced their portfolios by using their extra cash to acquire real and financial assets, the resulting increase in asset values would lower the cost of capital and improve the balance sheet positions of potential borrowers. A money-financed tax cut is essentially equivalent to Milton Friedman's famous "helicopter drop" of money ."
- Ben Bernanke, Deflation: Making Sure "It" Doesn't Happen Here, November 21, 2002
When it comes to the very simplest axiom on modern Keynesian economics, it seems one can't repeat it enough times: have leverage, have growth... don't have leverage, don't have growth. That is the reason why in early summer, China tried to conduct a mini-taper of its own to streamling its monetary pipeline which had been so filled with bad and non-performing credit, that the PBOC effectively pulled the switch on new liquidity for over a month. What happened almost immediately after, when rates on ultra short term funding soared to 20%+, nearly destroyed the domestic banking system and resulted in a major slowdown in the Chinese economy. "Luckily" for China, its close encounter with the taper was brief, if quite painful, and following a period of shock, the Chinese central bank had no choice but to resume injecting banks with their daily dose of monetary morphine all over again. This in turn, has brought us to square one: nothing in the local banking system has been fixed, and what's worse, while China has bought itself a few months respite, the dominant old problem of a collapsing credit impulse, as decribed before, in the country with the largest corporate credit bubble in the world, is about to come back with a bang in a few short months. In short: China just did what the US has boldly done so many times before - kicked the can.
In Part 1 of this article we documented the insane remedies prescribed by the mad banker scientists presiding over this preposterous fiat experiment since they blew up the lab in 2008. In Part 2 we tried to articulate why the country has allowed itself to be brought to the brink of catastrophe. There is no turning back time. The choices we’ve made and avoided making over the last one hundred years are going to come home to roost over the next fifteen years. We are in the midst of a great Crisis that will not be resolved until the mid-2020s. The appearance of stability is illusory, as the civic fabric of the country continues to tear asunder. Record high stock markets do not trickle down. The masters of propaganda seem baffled that their standard operating procedures are not generating the expected response from the serfs. They have failed to take into account the generational mood changes that occur; propaganda loses its effectiveness in proportion to the pain and distress being experienced by the citizenry.
With no keynote speaker at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s Jackson Hole Economic Symposium, there was no opportunity for Fed officials to send signals about their policy intent. However, while it’s unlikely that the papers discussed did much to change opinions of the FOMC participants, as Morgan Stanley's Vince Reinhart notes, there were themes discussed that may reflect committee members’ views regarding how tapering should proceed: all signs are still that the Fed will start the process of trimming its asset purchases at its meeting on September 17-18. Further, we wouldn’t be surprised if they initially trim just Treasury purchases. So it seems the primary dealers will get what they expect and the market (ever-hopeful of its bad-news-is-good-news meme) will be disappointed.
Much has been said about the recently announced (with the release of the Fed's July Minutes) proposal for a full-allotment overnight reverse repo facility, some of it confused, some of it desperate to read deeply into what the Fed is suggesting with this superficially tightening process, and most of it just plain wrong. What the Fed is simply trying to do with the O/N RRP, in a few words, is alleviate collateral pressures for "high-quality assets" - the same thing that the TBAC has been whining about for the past 2 quarters - by making available an elastic supply of risk-free assets to a fairly broad set of investors. As BofA adds, "The full-allotment feature would mean that eligible investors could effectively place as much cash as they wished at a fixed rate, which would be determined in advance by the Fed." In brief, a Fed O/N RRP facility would substantially reduce or even eliminate concerns about the lack of high quality liquid assets.
While we found it modestly comedic (and certainly ironic) that CNBC's crack team celebrated the recovery from the initial knee-jerk drop in stocks after the FOMC by top-ticking that suspension of reality; we suspect the following post-mortem from Goldman on the minutes is what confirmed concerns across the street... "Minutes from the July 30-31 FOMC meeting were generally consistent with our view that tapering of asset purchases is likely to occur at the September meeting, coincident with an enhancement of the forward guidance."
Richard Ebeling on Fed insolvency (technically, it's a nolo due to non-GAAP accounting gimmicks). And, Dean Baker demonizes your favorite False Profits[/Prophets?]: Greenspan, Bernanke and...Summers.