Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.Election Forecast 2015 - Opinion Polls Trending Towards Conservative Outright Win - Nadeem_Walayat
2.UK Solar Eclipse - End Time Sign, Judgement Day, Doomsday! - Nadeem_Walayat
3.Gold And Silver - When Will Precious Metals Rally? Not In 2015 - Michael_Noonan
4.Preparing for the Next Stocks Bear Market - Forecast 2015-2016 - Gary_Savage
5.Is a Stock Market Crash Imminent? - David Eifrig
6.Gold Price Slumps as US Dollar Soars, What's Next? - Nadeem_Walayat
7.US Dollar Forex Pairs and Gold Chartology - Rambus_Chartology
8.Election Forecast 2015: The Day Labour Lost the General Election - Nadeem_Walayat
9.The ECB Should End QE Next Month - EconMatters
10.Silver Price Poised to Surge - Zeal_LLC
Last 5 days
Sheffield Hallam Election Battle 2015 - Lib Dems Go to War Whilst Labour Sleeps - 27th Mar 15
Gold Effect On Mining & Shale Wasteland - 27th Mar 15
How Stock Investors Should Play the 2016 Presidential Race - 26th Mar 15
MidEast Energy Alert: Why the Crisis in Yemen Could Get Ugly Very Fast - 26th Mar 15
Stock Market Downward Spiral of Dumbness - 26th Mar 15
The Monetary Approach Reigns Supreme - 26th Mar 15
Stock Market Large Gap Down, Despite the Algos' Push Back - 26th Mar 15
Crude Oil Surges, Gold price Spikes as Middle East Tensions Escalate - 26th Mar 15
The U.S. Housing Market Recovery Is Fabricated Optimism - 26th Mar 15
Why Yemen Is The Next Saudi-Iranian Battleground - 26th Mar 15
The Crude Oil Price Crash and China Economic Slow Down - 26th Mar 15
Global Financial Markets Are More Distorted Than Ever Before - 26th Mar 15
One More Stock Market Rally and Then a Huge Drop Expected - 26th Mar 15
Danger Will Robinson - Stock Market Crash Warning - 25th Mar 15
Learn the Basics of Corrective Elliott Waves - 25th Mar 15
Why CNBC Is Hazardous to Your Financial Health! - 25th Mar 15
Will Your Retirement Accounts Survive The Coming Tax Code "Revolution"? - 25th Mar 15
US Dollar - Americas Phoenix - 25th Mar 15
California’s Epic Drought: Only One Year of Water Left! - 25th Mar 15
What’s Wrong With Silver? - 25th Mar 15
SPX Futures Appear Weak. WTIC and Gold May Be at Max Retracement - 25th Mar 15
We’re at the Dawn of a “New Energy Age” - 25th Mar 15
A Very Weak U.S. Economic Recovery - 25th Mar 15
Zero UK CPI Inflation Rate Prompts Deflation Danger Propaganda For Fresh Money Printing - 25th Mar 15
Stock Market NYSE Hi-Lo Index Aggressive Sell Signal - 24th Mar 15
Palladium Commodity Price Forecast - 24th Mar 15
Bitcoin Price Gearing Up for a Fall - 24th Mar 15
Safety Deposit Boxes In UK Being Closed By ‏HSBC – Not Closing Gold Vaults - 24th Mar 15
Japan Short Term Gains And Long Term Disaster - 24th Mar 15
China's Fragile Evolution - 24th Mar 15
David Cameron Announces Resignation Even Before Being Re-elected, Handing Labour 6 Seats - 24th Mar 15
City of London's Ownership of American Colonies - 24th Mar 15
Stock Market Reversal May Have Begun - 24th Mar 15
Casey Gathers Top Gold Experts to Share Secrets for Making Money in Any Market - 24th Mar 15
Thoughts on The Current Crude Oil Market - 24th Mar 15
U.S. Economy Still on Life Support - What Your Governments Hiding From You... - 24th Mar 15
UK Election Forecast 2015 - Budget Bribes Fail, SNP Insurgency Catastrophe - Video - 24th Mar 15
Is Stock Market Minor Top Taking Hold? - 23rd Mar 15
Greece and EU Running Out of Time as Bank Runs Intensify - 23rd Mar 15
Stock Market Slightly Negative Expectations Following Last Week's Rally - 23rd Mar 15
This Rising Interest Rates Play Could Make You a Quick 55% - 23rd Mar 15
Platinum Commodity Price False Break Low - 23rd Mar 15
The Real Reason The American Dream is Unraveling - 23rd Mar 15
Election Forecast 2015 - Budget Bribes Fail to Impress Voters, Tory's Lose Seats in Opinion Polls - 23rd Mar 15
Silver Price Reliance During U.S. Dollar Rally - 23rd Mar 15
Gold Price Outlook Dramatic Improvement Following US Dollar Topping Action - 23rd Mar 15
Wall Street Doesn't Want You to Do This - 22nd Mar 15
The "Natural Interest Rate" Is Always Positive and Cannot Be Negative - 22nd Mar 15
Exploring The Gold Market: The Fed, The Charts. The COTS and GLD - 22nd Mar 15
Stocks Bull Market Continues - 22nd Mar 15
Gold And Silver - China's AIIB Spells U.s. Dollar Demise, Not Clear For Precious Metals - 22nd Mar 15
Cocoa Commodity Price Technical Outlook - 21st Mar 15
Yield Curve, Futures, Suggest No U.S. Interest Rate Hike Until December - 21st Mar 15
Three Iconic Stocks Are Poised for a Dive - 21st Mar 15
We're All Hedge Funds Now! - 21st Mar 15
Why Stock Market Seasonality May Be Critical in 2015 - 20th Mar 15
Yellen's Tiger Riding Dilemma Keeps Interest Rates Near Zero - 20th Mar 15
FOMC is boxed in, Gold and Silver - 20th Mar 15
Silver Price Poised to Surge - 20th Mar 15
Why Aren’t These Investors Worried About The Gold Price? - 20th Mar 15
Gold Price Downside $850/oz; Upside Jump to $2,000/oz on ‘Grexit’ - 20th Mar 15
Cheap Paper Money - Precious Metals Technical Outlook - 20th Mar 15
Best Cash ISA vs Budget 2015 Scrapping Tax on Savings Interest on First £1,000 - 20th Mar 15
GDXJ / Gold Ratio - 20th Mar 15
What the “Yellen Effect” Ultimately Means for Crude Oil - 20th Mar 15
Sharp Fall In USD Index And Its Implications - 20th Mar 15
UK Solar Eclipse - End Time Sign, Judgement Day, Doomsday! - 19th Mar 15
How Many Shale Oil Plays Make Money At $37 Per Barrel? - 19th Mar 15
Gold Price Rises 2.1% – Fed Signals Loose Monetary Policies to Continue - 19th Mar 15
The Hottest Investment Opportunities in Tech Stocks Sector Right Now - 19th Mar 15
China's Deflationary Economic Bust and Beyond: Anne Stevenson-Yang Presentation - 19th Mar 15
T-Mobile CEO: "Sprint couldn't give away service...their network is completely dead" - 19th Mar 15

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis


Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

US Economy Still on Life Support

Fed’s Bullard Defence of QE2 is Full of Contradictions

Interest-Rates / Quantitative Easing Dec 22, 2010 - 07:19 AM GMT

By: Dian_L_Chu

Interest-Rates

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleJames Bullard, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis was on CNBC Monday, December 20, 2010 mostly defending the Fed’s controversial $600 billion Treasury purchasing program (QE2) announced in Nov.

What struck me as totally self-contradictory were Bullard’s statements regarding the QE2, treasury yield, inflation expectations, and inflation, which I will outline and rebuff below.


Bullard – Higher Treasury Yield = QE2 Success

During the interview, aside from the usual Fed PR spin that QE2 has been 'modestly successful so far', he also states:

“People who see the rise in Treasury yields as a sign the Fed's purchases were not having their desired effect should look at other measures, especially the improvement in the economic outlook and the rise in inflation expectations in the market for Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS). These are the ultimate goals of the Fed's policy.”

Bullard – QE2 Unrelated to Rising Commodity Prices

But when Fred Smith, Chairman, President and CEO of FedEx asked whether QE2 was related to the run-up in commodity prices, fuel prices in particular, which has been up 15% in the last 90 days and acted as a tax on American consumers, Bullard had this to say:

“…Is there some independent effect coming from monetary policy other than supply and demand conditions globally…I haven’t seen very much evidence of that, but would like to keep an eye on that.”

So, basically Bullard touts QE2 as building up inflation expectations, driving up treasury yields (thus averting a potential deflationary cycle), which was the goal of the Fed QE2 initiative.  Furthermore, Bullard contends that global demand and supply factors are behind the record high prices across almost all commodities, which he believes is unrelated to QE2.

Higher Treasury Yields– Kills Housing et al

First of all, the ultimate goal of the Fed’s securities purchases (QE2), as outlined by Chairman Bernanke in his speech at Frankfurt, Germany on Nov. 19, is to “lower interest rates on securities of longer maturities” to support household and business spending.

On that measure, QE2 has failed miserably. Interest rates, instead of declining, are rising rapidly driven by the bond markets and the bond vigilantes. The 10-year yield was at a low for the year of 2.4% in early October, and has shot up to a seven-month high of 3.56% the week of Dec. 12, before easing back to around 3.34% on Monday Dec. 20. (Fig. 1)

The yield on the U.S. Treasury is used as a benchmark to set interest rates on many kinds of loans including mortgages, and business borrowing rates in the capital market. So, the sharp rise in yields on Treasurys since the QE2 announcement in early November not only kills any flickering recovery sparks in the housing and other related sectors, but also raises the borrowing costs and interest payments of Uncle Sam.

Higher Borrowing Costs for Uncle Sam

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Dec. 14 projects that under current law, debt held by the public will exceed $16 trillion by 2020, reaching nearly 70% of GDP. The CBO also projects the combination of rising debt and rising interest rates to cause net interest payments to balloon to nearly $800 billion, or 3.4% of GDP, by 2020 (Fig. 2).


U.S. Debt Downgrade - More Than a Warning

Now, the U.S. is at a stage where the downgrade of U.S. sovereign debt rating seems closer to reality than ever before. Although most have dismissed the downgrade initiated by China’s Dagong Credit Agency back in July, CNBC reported that this time around the U.S. Treasury Dept. is going to meet with Moody’s and other agencies in January, 2011 to make its case to prevent a downgrade from the current AAA status.

CBO’s debt and interest payment projection assumes that US borrowing cost will remain reasonable. However, a credit downgrade and/or further loose monetary policies along with continued over-spending will only prompt bond markets and bond vigilantes to demand even higher interest rates resulting in much higher interest payment than the current projections, reminiscent of the 80’s when bond yields were in double-digit.

Expectation Drives Inflation

When it comes to inflation expectations, I’m actually in agreement with Bullard that the Fed has been successful in driving it up, which is reflected in the TIPS yield as well as the steepening yield curve (Fig. 3). However, as Bernanke himself puts it:

“The state of inflation expectations greatly influences actual inflation and thus the central bank's ability to achieve price stability.”

Since the Fed hinted at QE2, commodity price inflation has surged at a record pace during the past six months (Fig. 4)  The manifestation of inflation is a combination of many factors including but not limited to expectations, which drives behavior, as well as supply and demand factors.



So, for Bullard to “take credit” for driving up inflation expectations, but ignore its inflationary effect on commodity prices is illogical as well as self-contradictory.

QEs Not Flowing Where It’s Needed Most

The bottom line is this: Unlike China where its central government can mandate banks to actually lend to business and individuals, Fed’s two rounds of QE liquidity did not go to where it’s intended; it is instead trapped on banks, and corporations’ balance sheets.

U.S. banks have been holding about $1 trillion of excess reserves for the last two years, while American corporations are flush with $3 trillion in cash.

What do they use this money for? Banks and institutions with access to the Fed’s cheap money are pumping up commodities and stocks to make their quarters, while corporations, facing higher input costs in the form of runaway commodity prices, are busy engaging in M&A’s (which typically means “job rationalization”), and share buybacks to juice up earnings per share.

Meanwhile, stagnant wage and hiring trends failing to keep pace with skyrocketing food and energy costs for consumers, coupled with higher input costs, such as fuel, hitting companies' bottomline, will only further cut into growth prospects, and the purchasing power of consumers and even their overall standard of living.

QEs = Wealth Redistribution

The concern of deflation is entirely overblown (thanks to Bullard’s research paper warning of a Japanese-style deflation in the U.S.) and the Fed jumped the gun. In a way, the Fed’s QEs are a form of wealth redistribution from taxpayers to banks, institutions and corporations.

The liquidity has created an artificial financial market where a disproportionate minority is benefitting through higher stock and commodity prices (without producing much output and benefit to the real economy); while the majority suffers higher input costs for essential items like food and energy. 

Food and energy are some of the things that affect every consumer's daily life and pocket book, but are excluded from the core inflation calculation, a key measure on Fed's watch list.  This bias would only further misrepresent true inflation pressures, misguiding Fed's future policies, and result in a net loss for the economy over the long haul.

Dian L. Chu, M.B.A., C.P.M. and Chartered Economist, is a market analyst and financial writer regularly contributing to Seeking Alpha, Zero Hedge, and other major investment websites. Ms. Chu has been syndicated to Reuters, USA Today, NPR, and BusinessWeek. She blogs at Economic Forecasts & Opinions.

© 2010 Copyright Dian L. Chu - 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.


© 2005-2015 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

Free Report - Financial Markets 2014