Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Climate Change Mass Extinction - Birds, Bees and Bugs: Going Going Gone - Richard_Mills
2.A Purrrfect Gold Price Setup! - Peter_Degraaf
3.Who Finances America's Borrowing? Recession Indicator for Independent Thinkers Part 2 - F_F_Wiley
4.America’s One-sided Domestic Financial War - Raymond_Matison
5.Gold Price Summer Doldrums - Zeal_LLC
6.Two Key Events Will Unleash Gold - Jim_Willie_CB
7.Billionaire Schools Teacher in NAFTA Trade Talks - Richard_Mills
8.Get Out Of Crypto Cannabis Bubble Before It Pops and Move Into Bargain Basement Miners - Jeb_Handwerger
9.Stock Market Could Pullback for 1-2 weeks, But Medium Term Bullish - Troy_Bombardia
10.G7 Chaos, Central Banks and US Fed Will Drive Stock Prices This Week - Chris_Vermeulen
Last 7 days
SPX/Gold, Long-term Yields & Yield Curve 3 Amigos Update - 22nd Jun 18
Gold - How Long Can This Last? - 22nd Jun 18
Dow Has Fallen 8 days in a Row. Medium-long Term Bullish for Stocks - 22nd Jun 18
Trouble Spotting Market Trends? This Can Help - 22nd Jun 18
Financial Markets Analysis and Trend Forecasts 2018 - A Message from Nadeem Walayat - 21st Jun 18
SPX Bouncing Above Support - 21st Jun 18
Things You Need To Know If You Want To Invest In Bitcoin Now - 21st Jun 18
The NASDAQ’s Outperformance vs. the Dow is Very Bullish - 21st Jun 18
Warning All Investors: Global Stock Market Are Shifting Away From US Price Correlation - 20th Jun 18
Gold GLD ETF Update… Breakdown ? - 20th Jun 18
Short-term Turnaround in Bitcoin Might Not Be What You Think - 19th Jun 18
Stock Market’s Short Term Downside Will be Limited - 19th Jun 18
Natural Gas Setup for 32% Move in UGAZ Fund - 19th Jun 18
Magnus Collective To Empower Automation And Artificial Intelligence - 19th Jun 18
Trump A Bull in a China Shop - 19th Jun 18
Minor Car Accident! What Happens After You Report Your Accident to Your Insurer - 19th Jun 18
US Majors Flush Out A Major Pivot Low and What’s Next - 18th Jun 18
Cocoa Commodities Trading Analysis - 18th Jun 18
Stock Market Consolidating in an Uptrend - 18th Jun 18
Russell Has Gone Up 7 Weeks in a Row. EXTREMELY Bullish for Stocks - 18th Jun 18
What Happens Next to Stocks when Tech Massively Outperforms Utilities and Consumer Staples - 18th Jun 18
The Trillion Dollar Market You’ve Never Heard Of - 18th Jun 18
The Corruption of Capitalism - 17th Jun 18
North Korea, Trade Wars, Precious Metals and Bitcoin - 17th Jun 18
Climate Change and Fish Stocks – Burning Oxygen! - 17th Jun 18
A $1,180 Ticket to NEW Trading Opportunities, FREE! - 16th Jun 18
Gold Bullish on Fed Interest Rate Hike - 16th Jun 18
Respite for Bitcoin Traders Might Be Deceptive - 16th Jun 18
The Euro Crashed Yesterday. Bearish for Euro and Bullish for USD - 15th Jun 18
Inflation Trade, in Progress Since Gold Kicked it Off - 15th Jun 18
Can Saudi Arabia Prevent The Next Oil Shock? - 15th Jun 18
The Biggest Online Gambling Companies - 15th Jun 18
Powell's Excess Reserve Change and Gold - 15th Jun 18
Is This a Big Sign of a Big Stock Market Turn? - 15th Jun 18
Will Italy Sink the EU and Boost Gold? - 15th Jun 18
Bumper Crash! Land Rover Discovery Sport vs Audi - 15th Jun 18
Stock Market Topping Pattern or Just Pause Before Going Higher? - 14th Jun 18
Is the ECB Ending QE a Good Thing? Markets Think So - 14th Jun 18
Yield Curve Continues to Flatten. A Bullish Sign for the Stock Market - 14th Jun 18
How Online Gambling has Impacted the Economy - 14th Jun 18
Crude Oil Price Targeting $58 ppb Before Finding Support - 14th Jun 18
Stock Market Near Another Top? - 14th Jun 18
Thorpe Park REAL Walking Dead Living Nightmare Zombie Car Park Ride Experience! - 14th Jun 18

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

5 "Tells" that the Stock Markets Are About to Reverse

Bernanke Ponders The "Nuclear Option"

Interest-Rates / Quantitative Easing Oct 15, 2010 - 07:35 AM GMT

By: Mike_Whitney

Interest-Rates

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleBen Bernanke's speech on Friday in Boston could turn out to be a real barnburner. In fact, there's a good chance the Fed chairman will announce changes in policy that will stun Wall Street and send tremors through Capital Hill. Along with another trillion or so in quantitative easing, Bernanke is likely to appeal to congress for a second round of fiscal stimulus, this time in the form of a two-year suspension of the payroll tax. That's what he figures it will take to jump-start spending and rev-up the flagging economy. It could be the most radical intervention in history; Bernanke's version of “shock and awe”.


Bernanke laid out the details in a speech he gave in May 2003 to the Japan Society of Monetary Economics, in which he outlined the policies Japan should enact to beat deflation. Here's what he said:

“Rather than proposing the more familiar inflation target, I suggest that the BOJ consider adopting a price-level target, which would imply a period of reflation to offset the effects on prices of the recent period of deflation. Second, I would like to consider an important institutional issue, which is the relationship between the condition of the Bank of Japan's balance sheet and its ability to undertake more aggressive monetary policies.... Finally, and most important, I will consider one possible strategy for ending the deflation in Japan: explicit, though temporary, cooperation between the monetary and the fiscal authorities."

There it is. Bernanke is planning to reflate asset prices, purchase more government bonds, and enlist congress's support to pump liquidity into the broader economy. It's an ambitious strategy that could push the dollar over the edge, but the alternatives are equally bleak. Bernanke knows that "at best" GDP will hover around 1 to 2% through 2011 while the public grows increasingly restless about soaring unemployment. He also knows that--when interest rates are stuck at zero--the only way the central bank can zap the economy back to life is by increasing inflation expectations. That means, the Fed has to persuade people they've “lost it” and are planning to destroy the currency via the printing presses. It's all baloney. The Fed won't destroy the dollar. They just want to use the element of surprise to give the economy a good jolt. Gold bugs think the Fed is steering the country towards hyperinflation, but they're mistaken. It's all part of a larger calculation.

Bernanke may be a died-in-the-wool class warrior, but he's no moron. His policies are designed to overshoot in order to change expectations and get consumers out of their funk. He even says so in the speech. Here's a clip:

"A concern that one might have about price-level targeting, as opposed to more conventional inflation targeting, is that it requires a short-term inflation rate that is higher than the long-term inflation objective."

The only way to stimulate economic activity is to convince people that the dollar they presently have in their pockets will be worth less tomorrow. That's what puts the Jones' back into the minivan scuttling off to the mall. But what seems like profligate spending on the Fed's part, (QE) is really just a way of restoring the precrisis price level. Call it asset inflation if you want, but the bottom line is, Bernanke is not going to sit back while disinflation turns to deflation, the real value of personal debts rise, and the bankruptcies, defaults and foreclosures continue to mount. He's going to pull out all the stops and carpetbomb the economy with monetary and fiscal stimulus. Here's how Bernanke lays out his thesis:

"One possible approach to ending deflation in Japan would be greater cooperation, for a limited time, between the monetary and the fiscal authorities. Specifically, the Bank of Japan should consider increasing still further its purchases of government debt, preferably in explicit conjunction with a program of tax cuts or other fiscal stimulus."

Good. So Bernanke realizes that he can't go it alone. He has to get congress on board if he wants to succeed. (which is probably why the Fed's meeting was scheduled after the midterms)

Bernanke again: ... Consider for example a tax cut for households and businesses that is explicitly coupled with incremental BOJ purchases of government debt--so that the tax cut is in effect financed by money creation. Moreover, assume that the Bank of Japan has made a commitment, by announcing a price-level target, to reflate the economy, so that much or all of the increase in the money stock is viewed as permanent.

Under this plan, the BOJ's balance sheet is protected by the bond conversion program, and the government's concerns about its outstanding stock of debt are mitigated because increases in its debt are purchased by the BOJ rather than sold to the private sector. Moreover, consumers and businesses should be willing to spend rather than save the bulk of their tax cut: They have extra cash on hand, but--because the BOJ purchased government debt in the amount of the tax cut--no current or future debt service burden has been created to imply increased future taxes. Essentially, monetary and fiscal policies together have increased the nominal wealth of the household sector, which will increase nominal spending and hence prices."

This is truly radical, but it could work. And, the quickest way to engage the policy would be by slashing the payroll tax which would, in effect, give every working man and woman in the country a raise in pay.

Bernanke's comments are also a tacit admission that the banking system is still dysfunctional and cannot provide the credit needed for the next expansion, so he is bypassing the privately-owned system altogether and transferring money to consumers directly. Naturally, this will have a positive effect on spending and on any prospects for a recovery.

The cagey Bernanke has even concocted the public relations rationale for fending off the deficit hawks who will undoubtedly point to his plan as an example of wasteful government spending.

Bernanke: "Isn't it irresponsible to recommend a tax cut, given the poor state of Japanese public finances? To the contrary, from a fiscal perspective, the policy would almost certainly be stabilizing, in the sense of reducing the debt-to-GDP ratio. The BOJ's purchases would leave the nominal quantity of debt in the hands of the public unchanged, while nominal GDP would rise owing to increased nominal spending. Indeed, nothing would help reduce Japan's fiscal woes more than healthy growth in nominal GDP and hence in tax revenues.....More generally, by replacing interest-bearing debt with money, BOJ purchases of government debt lower current deficits and interest burdens and thus the public's expectations of future tax obligations."

The Bernanke plan seems to do everything except whiten teeth. But wouldn't it make more sense to restructure the banking system so the toxic assets can be removed and the banks can lend freely again? And wouldn't it be better to strengthen labor unions (so that wages keep pace with productivity) so workers can generate sufficient demand to keep the economy running smoothly without panicky injections of emergency stimulus? Of course, that would mean a truce in the ongoing class war which wouldn't fly with uppercrust plutocrats who take joy in seeing the unemployment lines wind from one side of the country to the other.

Bernanke's plan could work. Congress could pass emergency legislation to suspend the payroll tax for two years stuffing hundreds of billions of dollars into the pockets of struggling consumers. The Fed could make up the difference by purchasing an equal amount of long-term Treasuries keeping the yields low while the economy resets, employment rises, asset prices balloon, and markets soar. As the economy rebounds, the dollar will steadily lose ground triggering a sharp rise in commodities and an increase in exports that will spark a clash with foreign trading partners. Then what?

Yes, Bernanke's "nuclear option" could help to resuscitate economy, but it could also erode confidence in the dollar leading to the untimely demise of the world's reserve currency. It's all a roll of the dice.

By Mike Whitney

Email: fergiewhitney@msn.com

Mike is a well respected freelance writer living in Washington state, interested in politics and economics from a libertarian perspective.

© 2010 Copyright Mike Whitney - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

Mike Whitney Archive

© 2005-2018 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules