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
We are happy to report that our funding target has been reached – once again, a hearty thank you to all contributors, your support is greatly appreciated!
As a result of us having gotten from A to B, the annoying graphic is hereby retired. However, be aware that the donations button continues to exist. It is actually perfectly legitimate to use it during the non-funding season as well; assorted advantages we have listed that often result from doing so are likewise persistent (i.e., increased happiness, children including you in their songs, potential obtaining of privileges in the hereafter, etc., etc.). Unfortunately we can't promise that it will make the gold price go up, but we're working on that.
Thank you for your support!
To donate Bitcoins, use this address: 1DRkVzUmkGaz9xAP81us86zzxh5VMEhNke
5 Responses to “‘No Undue Fallout’ from Money Printing”
Most read in the last 20 days:
- The Baby Boomer Survival Guide (Part I)
The Yellow Machines Go Silent PARIS – What should you do if you are running out of time and money? This is the question we get from readers over 50… over 60… and sometimes over 70. We baby boomers were famously “na… na… na… live for today.” Now, it’s tomorrow. And many of us – often through no fault of our own – are having trouble making ends meet. At the Diary, we write about the world of money. About economic policy and how it affects you. But what if,...
- EU Moloch in a Fresh Bid to Inflate
Brussels Alters Capital Requirements to “Spur Lending” Saints preserve us, the central planners in Brussels are giving birth to new inflationist ideas. Apparently the 2008 crisis wasn't enough of a wake-up call. It should be clear by now even to the densest observers that a fractionally reserved banking system that flagrantly over-trades its capital is prone to collapse when the tide is going out. 2008 was really nothing but a brief reminder of this fact. The political and...
- Tell us Ron, What's the Plan, What's the “Austrian” Plan?
What? No Austrian Prescription? Bloomberg Reporters Cannot Believe It This is truly funny. Ahead of the FOMC decision, Ron Paul, who is well-known as an an implacable critic and enemy of the Fed and a fan of the Austrian School of Economics, was interviewed at Bloomberg as to “what the Fed should do”. What makes it so funny is that the Bloomberg reporters seemingly cannot believe that Austrian economists simply have no “prescriptions” for the Fed. They keep pushing Ron Paul for...
- Faith in Central Banks Dwindles
Even Bloomberg Notices that Something is Amiss As anyone who hasn't been in a coma knows, assorted central bank interventions have failed to achieve their stated goals over the past several years. A recent article at Bloomberg focuses on their failure to reach their “inflation” targets. Of course, this particular failure is actually reason to celebrate, as it means that consumers have at least been spared an even sharper decline in their real incomes than has been underway in spite...
- Refugee Crisis Blowback
A Sharp Turn in Swedish Politics When we recently discussed Europe's refugee crisis, we mentioned that a sizable political backlash was to be expected and that unfortunately, extreme nationalist parties were likely to be among the main beneficiaries. We also mentioned the situation of Sweden, where the mainstream political parties in an ongoing fit of political correctness bordering on lunacy have apparently decided to transform Sweden into a province of Mesopotamia. Leader of...
- US Stock Market: A Retest or Worse?
Gray Swans and Black Swans By Monday's close, the S&P 500 Index was closing in on the low established in the August swoon – such a retest was essentially our minimum expectation, as V-shaped rebounds are very rare. The question is now whether it will only be a retest, or if something worse is in the offing. No-one knows for sure of course, but we'll briefly discuss what we are looking at in this context. Image via NYTimes It is interesting that as the market...
- The Baby Boomer Survival Guide (Part II)
A Lehman Moment for Commodities? LONDON – Today, we continue our philosophical look at what you should do if you are running out of time and money. (You can catch up on Part I here.) Where do we begin? With how to add wealth? Or how to lose it? The way to lose it is simple. You buy something that is not worth the money you paid for it. You are instantly poorer, whether you know it or not. The pleasingly plump. Illustration by jdeer69 DJIA, daily...