Posts Tagged ‘debt monetization’

Desperate Federal Reserve Speeds Up the Printing Presses :$600 Billion in QE2

November 3rd, 2010 Comments off

Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, is up to his old tricks and gimmicks. His earlier bout of quantitative easing, totaling nearly two trillion dollars, was a miserable failure, attested to by an official U.S. unemployment rate of 9.6% and unofficial but more accurate rate of 17 percent, when underemployed and discouraged workers are accounted for. With no likelihood that Congress will spring for a second economic stimulus spending program, Bernanke and the Fed are now implementing QE2.

The second round of quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve will involve the purchase of 600 billion dollars in long-term U.S. Treasuries by the 2nd quarter of 2011. This is a gamble by the Fed, which I don’t see having a snowball’s chance in hell of being any more effective than the first round of quantitative easing. Furthermore, printing money out of thin air to buy government debt, in effect monetizing the debt, creates the risk of severe inflation, failed treasury auctions and the radical devaluation of the U.S. dollar.

It may be that Bernanke is doing QE2 precisely to weaken the dollar, though he would never say so publicly. In theory, a weaker dollar would make U.S. exports more competitive, leading to the creation of new jobs. However, as reported in an earlier blog, virtually every major economy is manipulating its currency in a race to the bottom. Not even dollar devaluation, if that is the Fed’s goal, will reverse the negative character of the U.S. economy and its grim unemployment crisis.

Federal Reserve Begins Massive Monetization of U.S. Government Debt

August 11th, 2010 Comments off

In a step that will be one of the markers on the road to economic and financial catastrophe, the Federal Open Market Committee (otherwise known as the FOMC) of the Federal Reserve, made a bombshell policy decision on August 10, 2010, one fraught with dangerous long-term consequences for the American and global economy. In a policy being dubbed QE2, the Federal Reserve’s FOMC conceded that the so-called U.S. economic recovery has “slowed,” and required more stimulus from the Fed. However, with federal funds interest rates now effectively at zero, the only aspect of monetary policy left is money printing. Thus, the Federal Reserve, in effect, will use its printing press to buy long-term U.S. government debt.

Of course, that is not how the FOMC is positioning this major escalation in quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve. In the dry, obtuse language that the obscurantists of the Federal Reserve love to engage in, the committee’s official statement said:

“To help support the economic recovery in a context of price stability, the Committee will keep constant the Federal Reserve’s holdings of securities at their current level by reinvesting principal payments from agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in longer-term Treasury securities. The Committee will continue to roll over the Federal Reserve’s holdings of Treasury securities as they mature.”

In  its first bout of heavy quantitative easing, in the wake of the implosion of the major Wall Street investment  banks in the fall of 2008, Ben Bernanke, utilizing his printing press, purchased $1.25 trillion in mortgage-backed securities, and an additional $200 billion in debts owed by so-called government-sponsored enterprises, primarily Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. This massive explosion in the Fed’s balance sheet has thus far failed to stimulate economic activity and retard a persistent deflationary recession. All that Bernanke has accomplished has been to create a new asset bubble, this time on Wall Street, with equities exploding in price far beyond their post-crisis lows. Beyond the Dow Jones index, however, the impact of Bernanke’s balance sheet expansion has been impotent in the face of economic realities, particularly a collapsing labor market and the contraction in consumer demand. The erosion in the M3 money supply, a statistic the Federal Reserve no longer publicly discloses, attests to the failure of its policies.

Now that the Federal Reserve admits, though in its typically obscure linguistic constructs, that a double-dip recession is becoming increasingly likely, Bernanke is going to enter a buying binge of long-term U.S. Treasuries. The hope is that this will stabilize financial markets, and somehow force liquidity into the economy. That, at least is the hope. Given Ben Bernanke’s track record, I would not bank on hope in the infallible judgement of the Federal Reserve and its FOMC.

What is likely to result from the QE2 phase of the Federal Reserve’s disastrous policymaking? In time, sovereign wealth funds will recognize Bernanke’s manoeuvre for what it is: monetization of the U.S. national debt. When that happens, Treasury auctions will begin to fail, and yields will advance. This will all put added pressure on the Fed to print even more dollars, and monetize an increasing proportion of the federal government’s debt. This will unquestionably inject liquidity into the U.S. economy. But this Federal Reserve monetary injection will be as beneficial as money printing was in Weimar Germany in the early1920s, or Zimbabwe more recently.

In deciding on a process that will lead to an ever-growing proportion of the U.S. national debt and yearly budget deficits being monetized by its printing press, the Federal Reserve, under the leadership of its chairman, Ben Bernanke, has taken a fateful step towards irredeemable economic and financial ruin, ultimately convulsing America with a savage, hyperinflationary depression. And, as history teaches us, severe economic depressions bring along other unanticipated consequences, often leading to political and social turmoil and even global war.