From the "Greenspan Put" To The "Bernanke Guarantee"

From Bill Buckler of The Privateer

The Great Falsification

On February 4, the Wall Street Journal ran an article with the title: Investors Place Their Money On Fed.

The gist of the article is that the markets in the US - and everywhere else to a greater or lesser degree - are still willing to bet on two things. One is that the Fed will come out with a new round of stimulus spending or “quantitative easing” sometime between now and the end of June this year. The focus of this reliance at present is on the mortgage paper backed by the US Government Sponsored Agencies (GSEs). They are certainly betting on “help” here. In the month since January 3, the rate on 30-year Fannie May mortgage “securities” has plummeted from 2.96 to 2.66 percent. Meanwhile, the various “guesses” for the size of the next tranche of QE range from $US 400 Billion to $US 1 TRILLION or more.

The great blow-out in the Fed’s balance sheet which began in September/October 2008 was largely driven by their actions to monetise the mortgage-backed securities which had fed the real estate bubble. Now, the markets expect the Fed to come “full circle” and start that all over again. Why? According to one US investment firm, the answer is simple: “We know they’re not going to take their foot off the accelerator. We know that they’re not going to want to purchase more Treasuries because they’re running out of Treasuries to purchase. So that leaves mortgages.”

With $US 1 TRILLION plus annual deficits stretching out into the indefinite future, the Fed is certainly not going to “run out of Treasuries to purchase”. On top of that, there is the $US 2.8 TRILLION of maturing Treasury debt which must be rolled over this year. The simple truth of the matter is that ever since they were rescued by QE1 back in March 2009, the markets have become used to the idea that the financial “powers that be” will not let the concept of “risk” return to sully the rewards they now expect.

The “Greenspan put” has turned into a “Bernanke guarantee”. Ben Bernanke reminded the world that the government does have such a thing as a “printing press” way back in 2002. Since he became Fed Chairman, he has left world markets in no doubt of that fact. And that is what they are relying on.


No comments yet! Be the first to add yours.