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
Dear Readers! We are happy to report that we have reached our turn-of-the-year funding goal and want to extend a special thank you to all of you who have chipped in. We are very grateful for your support! As a general remark, according to usually well informed circles, exercising the donation button in between funding drives is definitely legal and highly appreciated as well.
Bitcoin address: 1DRkVzUmkGaz9xAP81us86zzxh5VMEhNke
5 Responses to “‘No Undue Fallout’ from Money Printing”
Most read in the last 20 days:
- How the Welfare State Dies
Hollande Threatens to Ban Protests Brexit has diverted attention from another little drama playing out in Europe. As of the time of writing, if you Google “Hollande threatens to ban protests” or variations thereof, you will find Russian, South African and even Iranian press reports on the topic. Otherwise, it's basically crickets (sole exception: Politico). Gee, we wonder why? They don't like him anymore: 120.000 protesters recently turned Paris into a war zone. All...
- Toward Freedom: Will The UK Write History?
Mutating Promises We are less than one week away from the EU referendum, the moment when the British people will be called upon to make a historic decision – will they vote to “Brexit” or to “Bremain”? Both camps have been going at each other with fierce campaigns to tilt the vote in their direction, but according to the latest polls, with the “Leave” camp’s latest surge still within the margin of error, the outcome is too close to call. The battle lines are...
- A Market Ready to Blow and the Flag of the Conquerors
Bold Prediction MICHAELS, Maryland – The flag in front of our hotel flies at half-mast. The little town of St. Michaels is a tourist and conference destination on the Chesapeake Bay. It is far from Orlando, and even farther from Daesh (a.k.a. ISIL) and the Mideast. St. Michaels, Maryland – the town that fooled the British (they say, today). Photo credit: Fletcher6 Out on the river, a sleek sailboat, with lacquered wood trim, glides by, making hardly a...
- Going... Going... Gone! The EU Begins to Splinter
Dark Social Mood Tsunami Washes Ashore Early this morning one might have been forgiven for thinking that Japan had probably just been hit by another tsunami. The Nikkei was down 1,300 points, the yen briefly soared above par. Gold had intermittently gained 100 smackers – if memory serves, the biggest nominal intra-day gain ever recorded (with the possible exception of one or two days in early 1980). Here is a picture of Haruhiko Kuroda in front of his Bloomberg monitor this...
- Rule Britannia
A Glorious Day What a glorious day for Britain and anyone among you who continues to believe in the ideas of liberty, freedom, and sovereign democratic rule. The British people have cast their vote and I have never ever felt so relieved about having been wrong. Against all expectations, the leave camp somehow managed to push the referendum across the center line, with 51.9% of voters counted electing to leave the European Union. Waving good-bye to...
- The Problem with Corporate Debt
Taking Off Like a Rocket There are actually two problems with corporate debt. One is that there is too much of it... the other is that a lot of it appears to be going sour. Harvey had a good time in recent years...well, not so much between mid 2014 and early 2016, but happy days are here again! Cartoon by Frank Modell As a brief report at Marketwatch last week (widely ignored as far as we are aware) informs us: “Businesses racked up debt in the...
- What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
A Convocation Of Gamblers The Wall Street Journal and BloombergView have just run articles on the shadow banking system in China. This has put me in a nostalgic mood. About 35 years ago when I was living in Japan, I made a side trip to Hong Kong. Asia's Sin City, Macau Photo credit: Nattee Chalermtiragool I took the hydrofoil to Macau one afternoon and the same service back early the next morning. On the morning trip, I am sure that I saw many of the...
- A Darwin Award for Capital Allocation
Beyond Human Capacity Distilling down and projecting out the economy’s limitless spectrum of interrelationships is near impossible to do with any regular accuracy. The inputs are too vast. The relationships are too erratic. The economy - complex and ever-changing interrelations. Image credit: Andrea Dionne Quite frankly, keeping tabs on it all is beyond human capacity. This also goes for the federal government. Even with all their data gatherers and...
- Janet Yellen’s $200-Trillion Debt Problem
Blame “Brexit” BALTIMORE – The U.S. stock market broke its losing streak on Thursday [and even more so on Monday, ed.]. After five straight losing sessions, the Dow eked out a 92-point gain. The financial media didn’t know what to say about it. So, we ended up with the typical inanities, myths, and claptrap. “Investors” are pushing the DJIA back up again..apparently any excuse will do at the moment. The idea may backfire though, as exactly the same thing happened...
- The Fed’s Doomsday Device
Bezzle BALTIMORE – Barron’s, in a lather, says the market is facing the “Two Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” Huh? Only two? There were four last time! Supposedly, the so-called Brexit – the vote in Britain this Thursday on whether to leave or remain in the European Union (EU) – and uncertainty over where the Fed will take U.S. interest rates are cutting down stocks faster than a Z-turn mower. But Brexit is a side show. As our contacts in London...
- Gold and Brexit
Going Up for the Wrong Reason Gold is soaring. It should—and a lot—but in my view not for the reason it is. Indeed gold is insurance for uncertain times, a time that Brexit seems to represent. But insurance is an administrative cost — one must minimize its use. August gold contract, daily – gold has been strong of late, but this seems to be driven by “Brexit” fears - click to enlarge. Moreover, insuring against Brexit might ironically be equivalent...
- Brexit Paranoia Creeps Into the Markets
European Stocks Look Really Bad... Late last week stock markets around the world weakened and it seemed as though recent “Brexit” polls showing that the “leave” campaign has obtained a slight lead provided the trigger. The idea was supported by a notable surge in the British pound's volatility. Battening down the hatches... On the other hand, if one looks at European stocks, one could just as well argue that their bearish trend is simply continuing – and...