One of the funniest lines in Bernanke's speech last 60 Minutes speech is when he said that the currency in circulation has not increased despite his monetary easing - ergo there is no inflation. Of course, as even doorknobs know by now currency is merely one component of physical and binary money out there. But trust a pathological liar to expect 60 Minutes' viewers to be dumb as a bag of hammers. Of course, a far more important metric of the moneyness of the system, is the M2 aggregate (technically M3 is far more important, but as per the Fed's March 23, 2006 decision, M3 was discontinued as "M3 does not appear to convey any additional information about economic activity that is not already embodied in M2 and has not played a role in the monetary policy process for many years. Consequently, the Board judged that the costs of collecting the underlying data and publishing M3 outweigh the benefits." Ah yes, the Fed is worried about costs...) Anyway, the M2 has just risen to a fresh all time record: in the week ended November 29, Seasonally Adjusted M2 was $8,812.2 billion, which is the 19th week of the last 21 in which this metric has increased. Is inflation about to prove just how much of a monetary phenomenon it really is? But not to worry - the Chairman is well ahead of everyone in withdrawing all of this excess money already percolating through the economy.
And once again we are back to discussing just how the Fed does "not" print money... Or does it? If the data from the just released M2 is to be believed (which is becoming near impossible now that even critical economic data is gamed merely to achieve policy goals - today's NFP number was nothing more than Obama's way to get his desired UI extension; look for a surge in the December NFP numbers as the spin machine picks up back on the economic recovery trope), the $1 trillion in Fed excess reserves continues to trickle into broader currency aggregates. To wit: last week M2 grow by $10.3 billion, which is a fresh all time high of $8,809.2 billion (this was at $4.6 trillion at the beginning of the decade). This more cheap money that is increasingly making its way into commodities and risky assets. For now it is a trickle. Soon, it will be a flood.
Seasonally adjusted M2 has just surpassed $8.8 trillion for the first time, hitting a record $8,802.2 billion, a jump of $16 billion on a SA basis. This is the 17th out of 18 consecutive weeks that M2 has increased. On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, M2 also jumped to a record high, hitting $8,765 billion, a jump of $56.9 billion W/W, and an increase if just over $100 billion in the past two weeks alone. While the jump itself is not surprising as it comes in anticipation, and realization, of QE2 (we would love to have the semantic and highly theoretical debate of whether or not the Fed "prints money" but will focus on the practical for now), the last week's components of the M2 change were odd to say the least. In the past week we saw both the biggest drop in commercial banks savings deposits in 2010 ($61.3 billion) and the biggest jump in demand deposits ($57.6 billion).
Typically at this time on Thursday we present our weekly Fed balance sheet update. At this point, that particular data is irrelevant as what the Fed's assets look like today, is nothing compared to what they will look like in 8 months, when the Fed will own more Treasuries than China and Japan combined. So instead we present the M2 update, where after 16 consecutive weeks of increases, M2 has finally dipped. Oddly enough, this occurs just before the Fed went balls to the well in buying EVERYTHING.
M2 Update: 14th Consecutive Weekly Increase Even As Main Street Accelerates Cash Withdrawal From BanksSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/17/2010 10:52 -0500
The only thing mirroring the relentless outflow from stocks these days (now in their 23rd week) is the increase in the M2 money supply: the week ending October 4th was the 14th consecutive weekly increase in the broadest money aggregate compiled by the Fed which hit $8,752.4 billion, an increase of $20 billion from the $8,732.8 billion the week before. Curiously, the Fed decided to massively revise all previous numbers (as if the amount of money that goes in and out of a bank, and should be recorded electronically the second it happens is subject to change). Yet the strangest number to come out of the huge revision had to do with with the flow of money in and out of Small Denomination (under $100,000) time deposits, or in other words the place where the bulk of Main Street America parks their money for some pursuit of nominal yield. The kicker - since the beginning of the year there has not been one weekly inflow into small denomination time deposits! (go ahead and check it) It appears either the less than richest Americans need to constantly pull money out of the bank, as they give up yield (and in a Zero Interest Rate environment there is no yield to be given up) in order to pay their bills, or simply have decided to no longer keep their money with the big (and small) banks (as this includes both commercial banks and thrifts). Could the "starve the banks" campaign be working? If Americans succeed in pulling enough money from their banks via deposit redemption, coupled with the stock trading boycott, it will be the end of Wall Street post haste.
M2 Update: 12th Consecutive Weekly Increase, The Seasonal Adjustment Inflection Point, And The FDIC's "Free Capital Transfer" Plan Is WorkingSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/07/2010 20:34 -0500
M2 continues its seemingly endless rise higher...at least on a seasonal adjusted basis. In the week ended September 27, M2 rose to a fresh record of $8,741.9 trillion: a$30.9 billion W/W jump which was the 4th largest weekly rise year to date. This was the 12th sequential increase in M2, which in 2010 has increased by over quarter of a trillion dollars. Not surprisingly, the biggest swing factor in the weekly change was the $20 billion rotation in Demand Deposits, which switched from an outflow of ($9.2) to $12.8 billion. Surely, this is precisely as the administration had intended: some may recall that last week we noted that the broke FDIC had decided to increase the insurance on demand deposits from $250,000 to infinity, precisely in hopes of achieving this effect.
M2 continues its inexorable rise higher, and while by all indications the various shadow components of M3 are declining, the Fed and the banking system sure are doing everything in their power to reflate traditional monetary liabilities. In the week ended September 20, M2 rose to a fresh record of $8,712 trillion, even as M1 has declined marginally in recent weeks. This was the 11th sequential increase in M2, which in 2010 has increased by quarter of a trillion dollars. Yet this increase does nothing to offset the over $2 trillion decline in shadow banking liabilities through Q2 which we have discussed previously.
In the week ended September 13, M2 rose to a fresh all time record, just above $8.7 trillion, representing the 10th consecutive increase in the broadest monetary aggregate tracked by the Federal Reserve, during which time $115 billion in new liquidity has been injected in the US economy. Additionally, since the 2010 M2 lows recorded oddly enough on April 19, around the time when the S&P peaked for 2010, there has been $235 billion of money injected into M2. Yet a peculiar observation arises when one looks at the components of the M2 - the bulk of the individual pieces of M2 (and M1 by definition) declined: there were W/W drops in Demand Deposits, Other Checkable Deposits, Savings Deposits at Thrifts, and especially Small Denomination Time Deposits, offset only by Savings Deposits at Commercial Banks. Now that is rather troubling, because the former list represents products used by the "less than wealthiest" to park their money. It appears that in the prior week (and throughout 2010), what's left of the middle class continues to actively withdraw its saved up money, but the net effect was offset by increased deposits into Commercial Bank savings deposits: traditionally capital storage reserved for the richer (due to the relative immobility of the capital: the vast majority of Americans for whom money does not grow on trees, prefer to have instant access to their deposits). This makes us wonder: is the trend seen in the stock market being replicated in the bank deposit realm? Are the lower and middle classes actively withdrawing money from banks, even as the wealthiest 1% continues to deposit? No wonder then that Huffington's campaign to punish the TBTF's by extracting their deposits is not working.
M1+M2 Update, Or Does The Deflation/Hyperinflation Debate Hinge On The Propping Of Shadow Monetary Aggregates?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 09/16/2010 20:39 -0500
Together with the Fed's balance sheet, we are now convinced that the second most important developing metric for the economy is a granular analysis of the key public monetary aggregates: M1+M2. Within a month we also hope to develop our own definition of M3, to supplement such work elsewhere, in order to provide an independent opinion on what the true monetary growth is, now that increasingly more people are discussing the threat of outright hyperinflation. But before we get there, here is our first breakdown of M1 and M2 data. As a reminder, M1, or the monetary base, consists of the i) Currency in Circulation, ii) Demand Deposits, and iii) Other Checkable Deposits (technically it also includes roughly $5 billion worth of Travellers Checks each week, but this is merely a remnant of a bygone era and it rarely if ever changes). In the most recent week, total M1 was $1,700.7 billion, a modest decline from the prior week mostly due to a $12 billion drop in Other Checkable Deposits. Beyond pure M1, there are also i) Savings Deposits at Commercial Banks, ii) Savings Deposits at Thrifts, iii) Total Small Denomination Time Deposits and iv) Retail Money Funds. All these, in addition to the items listed under M1, make up M2, which closed the week ended September 8 at just over $8.7 trillion for the first time in history. For those who look at M2 as an indication of just how much liquidity is sloshing in the system, and use it as a proxy for inflation, the attached chart must be rather troubling.
Another week in which the M2 jumped to a fresh all time high, increasing by $30 billion W/W to just under $8.7 trillion. This was only the fourth largest weekly jump in this broad money aggregate in 2010, with the prior biggest ones clustered just around the time of the Greek "out of court" reorganization and the flash crash in May. This was also the 8th sequential increase in the M2 in a row. Oddly enough this occurred even as the Monetary Base (NSA) declined by $11 billion to $1.983 trillion. Currently, the M2-MB ratio stands at 4.4x, close to its all time lows, with the recent decline purely a function of the modest contraction in the Fed's balance sheet as MBS had been rolling off for the past 4 months. With QE Lite in play, expect the Fed's Balance sheet to remain flat, which will likely mean that the ratio of the Fed's asset to the Monetary Base will remain more or less unchanged at its elevated ratio of 1.15x (with a tendency toward declining), compared to the historical average of around 1.00. Note the (as expected) inverse relationship between the M2-MB ratio and the total size of the Fed balance sheet, as the monetary base has exploded courtesy of excess reserves, without this number actually hitting M2. Is the recent leakage in M2 higher, coupled with a contraction in MB the critical step that all the inflationists have been dreading (yet at the same time expecting)?
Once again, presented without comment.
The "M" is there. Now all the Fed needs to get is to find the velocity that goes with it. However, with GDP now realistically declining, the latter is proving to be quite problematic for the Chairman.