San Francisco Fed Chief Sees no Danger
John Williams, president of the San Francisco Fed, yet another noted dove, thinks nothing can go wrong by printing gobs of money. There is no inflation, and there never will be. They have the 'tools' to avert it. Never mind the explosion of the money supply over the past four years – it is all good.
The nuclear bomb aftermath imagery Reuters used in its headline is actually quite apt.
„The U.S. Federal Reserve's unconventional monetary policies have lowered borrowing costs and boosted growth without creating unwanted inflation, a top Fed official said on Monday, predicting the Fed's latest round of asset-buying will exceed $600 billion.
The Fed will want to see sustained jobs gains and a consistent drop in the unemployment rate before it stops buying assets, making it likely the purchases will continue until "well into next year," John Williams, president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, told reporters after a lecture at the University of California, Irvine.
The U.S. central bank's prior round of quantitative easing totaled $600 billion; its first one was about $1.7 trillion.
The Fed began its third round of quantitative easing, known as QE3, in September, beginning with $40 billion a month in mortgage-backed securities and promising to continue or expand the purchases if the labor market does not improve substantially.
Although asset-buying and other non-traditional monetary policies pose potential risks, "the available evidence suggests they have been effective in stimulating growth without creating an undesirable rise in inflation," Williams said at the lecture. "We are not seeing signs of rising inflation on the horizon."
The policies also have not stimulated excessive risk-taking, he said.”
They have not stimulated what? This is a joke, right?
We are struck by the continued refusal by Fed officials to even think for a second about the long range effects of their policies. They see nothing untoward on the 'horizon' because their horizon probably ends at the edge of their dinner plates. One feels fatally reminded of the many premature victory laps, the self-congratulory back-patting and the growing incidence of laughter at FOMC meetings during 2004-2006.
At the time it was also held that the 'great effort' by the monetary bureaucrats to help pump up the money supply by cutting rates to the bone after the Nasdaq bubble had expired had been responsible for producing a sound recovery. In reality it had only produced yet another bubble, this time one so egregious it almost proved fatal for the banking system, which to this day survives mainly by dint of clinging to well over a trillion dollars in excess reserves the Fed has created from thin air.
The Mythical 'Exit'
Williams also relayed what the eventual 'exit' strategy would look like (ha!):
“Once it comes time to exit its super-easy monetary policy, the Fed will target a "soft landing," raising rates and then selling the assets it has accumulated in its bid to push borrowing costs lower, Williams said.”
The hubris of these guys is jaw-dropping. Hello? What happened to the 'soft landing' in 2008? Guess what, in the run-up to that soft crash landing, the Fed also tightened policy 'gradually'. That's all it took to produce a truly spectacular demise of the faux recovery/echo bubble which it had engineered after the Nasdaq crash.
If the Fed one day begins to sell the assets it has accumulated in the course of 'QE', then there is a good chance that the money supply will actually decline, unless the commercial banks decide to simultaneously engage in a very determined credit expansion. This is not likely to happen anytime soon, given the sorry state of the banks, which is largely masked by dodgy, if these days legal, accounting practices (anyone remember 'mark to market'?). The extra cash assets they now have lying around at the Fed in the form of excess reserves are mainly a buffer for the next crisis. Let us not forget, there has been exactly zero debt deleveraging on an economy-wide basis so far. On the contrary, total credit market debt owed is right at a new record high. Households have defaulted on a lot of mortgage debt, but otherwise there is no sign of 'deleveraging' whatsoever. Corporations have record high debt, while the government's debt has basically gone off the charts.
Total credit market debt owed is at a new record high. There has been no 'deleveraging' at all – not yet, anyway.
Does anyone seriously believe the Fed will ever sell the assets it has bought and deliberately shrink the money supply? A certain bridge in Brooklyn comes to mind. The Fed won't let the debtberg implode voluntarily. The proof is in the pudding: so far it has all been a mad dash of the 'flight forward' sort.
The severity of the eventual 'undue fallout' to borrow the Reuters terminology cannot be ascertained just yet. It will likely arrive with a considerable lag, but when the time comes, it will probably once again do so with a bang. Those who actually do ponder the long-range effects of massive monetary pumping won't be surprised. Perhaps the Fed should order a few apologias to be drawn up in advance. The last batch was pretty lame as it were (we were invited to pick between 'stupid Asian savers are saving too much' and 'most regulated sector of the economy was not regulated enough'). Maybe they can think of something better next time, but we're not holding our breath.
In the meantime, money printing continues to undermine the economy. Wealth cannot be generated by increasing the money supply – all that can be achieved by this is an ephemeral improvement in the 'data' even while scarce capital continues to be malinvested and consumed.
Chart via: St. Louis Federal Reserve Research
You may have noticed that our so-called “semiannual” funding drive, which started sometime in the summer if memory serves, has seamlessly segued into the winter. In fact, the year is almost over! We assure you this is not merely evidence of our chutzpa; rather, it is indicative of the fact that ad income still needs to be supplemented in order to support upkeep of the site. Naturally, the traditional benefits that can be spontaneously triggered by donations to this site remain operative regardless of the season - ranging from a boost to general well-being/happiness (inter alia featuring improved sleep & appetite), children including you in their songs, up to the likely allotment of privileges in the afterlife, etc., etc., but the Christmas season is probably an especially propitious time to cross our palms with silver. A special thank you to all readers who have already chipped in, your generosity is greatly appreciated. Regardless of that, we are honored by everybody's readership and hope we have managed to add a little value to your life.
Bitcoin address: 1DRkVzUmkGaz9xAP81us86zzxh5VMEhNke
5 Responses to “‘No Undue Fallout’ from Money Printing”
Most read in the last 20 days:
- India: Still the Fastest Growing Large Economy?
India’s Currency Ban - Part X It has now been four months since Narendra Modi declared about 86% of monetary value of currency illegal. Linked here is the last in my series of updates, which was written soon after the deadline to deposit the demonetized currency. Most of the banned currency was eventually deposited, making a mockery of Modi, who had claimed that unaccounted money would not reach the banks. Perhaps 3% of the cash never reached the banks. A cunning plan...
- Gold Sector: Positioning and Sentiment
A Case of Botched Timing, But... When last we wrote about the gold sector in mid February, we discussed historical patterns in the HUI following breaches of its 200-day moving average from below. Given that we expected such a breach to occur relatively soon, the post turned out to be rather ill-timed. Luckily we always advise readers that we are not exactly Nostradamus (occasionally our timing is a bit better). Below is a chart of the HUI Index depicting the action since the January...
- Welcome to Totalitarian America, President Trump!
Trump vs. the Deep State If there had been any doubt that the land of the free and home of the brave is now a totalitarian society, the revelations that its Chief Executive Officer has been spied upon while campaigning for that office and during his brief tenure as president should now be allayed. Image adapted from the cover of “Deep State #5” - depicting an assassin from the future President Trump joins the very crowded list of opponents of the American...
- India: The next Pakistan?
India’s Rapid Degradation This is Part XI of a series of articles (the most recent of which is linked here) in which I have provided regular updates on what started as the demonetization of 86% of India's currency. The story of demonetization and the ensuing developments were merely a vehicle for me to explore Indian institutions, culture and society. The Modimobile is making the rounds amid a flower shower. [PT] Photo credit: PTI Photo Tribal cultures face...
- The Long Run Economics of Debt Based Stimulus
Onward vs. Upward Something both unwanted and unexpected has tormented western economies in the 21st century. Gross domestic product (GDP) has moderated onward while government debt has spiked upward. Orthodox economists continue to be flummoxed by what has transpired. What happened to the miracle? The Keynesian wet dream of an unfettered fiat debt money system has been realized, and debt has been duly expanded at every opportunity. Although the fat lady has so far only...
- Boosting Stock Market Returns With A Simple Trick
Systematic Trading Based on Statistics Trading methods based on statistics represent an unusual approach for many investors. Evaluation of a security's fundamental merits is not of concern, even though it can of course be done additionally. Rather, the only important criterion consists of typical price patterns determined by statistical examination of past trends. Fundamental considerations such as the valuation of stocks are not really relevant to the statistics-based trading...
- Searching for Truth
Heresy or Truth? RANCHO SANTANA, NICARAGUA – In the fifth century, Christian scholars counted 88 different heresies. Arianism. Eutychianism. Nestorianism. If there was a way to “offend” God, they had a name for it. One group of “heretics” argued that there was no such thing as “original sin.” Another denied the trinity. And another claimed Jesus was not divine. Which one had the truth? Depiction of the first Council of Ephesus in 431 AD, convened by Emperor...
- Why the 21st Century Sucks - Turtles All the Way Down
A Truly Sucky Century BALTIMORE – What an awful century! Worst we’ve ever seen. Household incomes are down. Employment is down, with 7 million people in the U.S. of working age without jobs. Productivity growth is down. GDP growth is down – to only about 0.5% per capita last year. Even life expectancies are down. Drug overdoses are up. Suicides are up. One out of every eight children lives in a family getting food stamps. One of out every eight adults takes psychoactive drugs...
- Gold and the Fed's Looming Rate Hike in March
Long Term Technical Backdrop Constructive After a challenging Q4 in 2016 in the context of rising bond yields and a stronger US dollar, gold seems to be getting its shine back in Q1. The technical picture is beginning to look a little more constructive and the “reflation trade”, spurred on further by expectations of higher infrastructure spending and tax cuts in the US, has thus far also benefited gold. From a technical perspective, there are indications that the low at $1045.40,...
- March to Default
Style Over Substance “May you live in interesting times,” says the ancient Chinese curse. No doubt about it, we live in interesting times. Hardly a day goes by that we’re not aghast and astounded by a series of grotesque caricatures of the world as at devolves towards vulgarity. Just this week, for instance, U.S. Representative Maxine Waters tweeted, “Get ready for impeachment.” Well, Maxine Waters is obviously right – impeaching the president is an urgent...
- Off the Beaten Path in Mesoamerica
Greeted by Rooster There’s an endearing quality to a steadfast rooster call at the crack of dawn when overheard from a warm country farmhouse. There’s a reassuring charm that comes with the committed gallinaceous greeting of daybreak that’s particularly suited to a rural ambiance. The allure of a morning cock-a-doodle-doo somehow falls flat in all other settings. Good morning everyone! Before meteorological forecasts were available on TV and smart phones, people...
- Why Silver Went Down – Precious Metals Supply and Demand
Rumor-Mongering vs. Data The question on the lips of everyone who plans to exchange his metal for dollars—widely thought to be money—is why did silver go down? The price of silver in dollar terms dropped from about 18 bucks to about 17, or about 5 percent. Reportedly silver was already assassinated in the late 19th century... so last week they must have assassinated its corpse. [PT] Illustration taken from 'Coin's Financial School' The facile answer is...