Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.How U.S. Dollar Destruction Threatens the Global Economy - Steve Forbes
2.Why UK House Prices Will Continue Rising - 'It's Immigration Stupid' - Nadeem_Walayat
3. Bitcoin Price at Beginning of a Move up? - Mike_McAra
4.Gold Price to Plunge, Visiting Fort Knox - David_Hague
5.Silver Price Forecast - Metal to Gain Ground in August on These Factors - Jim Bach
6.Gold And Silver Will Rise With US Dollar Demise, Just Not Soon - Michael_Noonan
7.Bitcoin Price Strong Move Possible - Mike_McAra
8.Israel Gaza War Crimes - Soldier's Ordered to Shoot Civilians Including Children - C4News - C4News
9.UK House Prices Crash Warning - Daily Mail Cognitive Dissonance - Nadeem_Walayat
10.UK House Prices Boom - Top Quick Cheap Tips to Help Sell Your Home - Nadeem_Walayat
Last 5 days
Gold Rising Interest Rate Fallacy - 22nd Aug 14
Jackson Hole: Myth of the All Powerful Central Banker Continues - 22nd Aug 14
Partying On In The Terror State - Thank God for Nuclear Weapons - 22nd Aug 14
The Something for Nothing Society - Lifecycle of Bureaucracy - 22nd Aug 14
Hitting The ISIS Panic Button In The Middle East - 22nd Aug 14
US Stock Indices 10-Year Consolidation Patterns ... Upside Breakouts? - 22nd Aug 14
Gold and Silver Price Getting Set To Explode Higher - 22nd Aug 14
Deflation's Final Curtain Call - Part II - 22nd Aug 14 - Clif_Droke
Gold Big Picture: Most Important - 22nd Aug 14
How the “Uncertainty Factor” Drives Crude Oil Prices - 22nd Aug 14
Inflation, Interest Rates, and Why You Should Own Gold - 22nd Aug 14
U.S. Interest Rates Can Rise States Fed President - 22nd Aug 14
Why Emotional Discipline is Key to Trading Success - 21st Aug 14
Getting the Most Value from Your “Geriatric Cruiser” - 21st Aug 14
Mafia Boss Claims Stocks A Bubble, Buy Physical Gold and Silver - 21st Aug 14
Outrage! On The Beheading of Our Media Brother James Foley - 21st Aug 14
Stock Market Crash a Historical Pattern? - 21st Aug 14
The Black Box Economy - 21st Aug 14
The Bond Market is taking Advantage of Janet Yellen`s Dovishness - 21st Aug 14
Meet Your Investment Manager - 21st Aug 14
Gold and Silver Trading Alert as U.S. Dollar Soars to New Highs - 21st Aug 14
President Obama Strongest Statement Yet on Israel Gaza War - 20th Aug 14
Peak Gold? Russia To Surpass Australia As World No 2 Gold Producer - 20th Aug 14
AI, Robotics, and the Future of Jobs - 20th Aug 14
Stock Market Investors What's Your Exit? - 20th Aug 14
The Gold War - Thinker, Trader, Holder, Why? - 20th Aug 14
Ukraine Interest Rates Soars to 17.5% As External Debt Cannot be Repaid - 20th Aug 14
Rising Interest Rates and The End of Stimuland - 20th Aug 14
Inflation Watch: $245,000 to Raise a Child in United States - 20th Aug 14
Inside the Stunning Deal That Put Apple and IBM on the Same Side - 20th Aug 14
The US Gold in Fort Knox is Secure, Gone, or Irrelevant? - 19th Aug 14
Bitcoin Price On The Brink of a Possible Reversal - 19th Aug 14
Why Tesla Stock Price Will Double in the Next 12 Months - 19th Aug 14
Europe's Economic Malaise: The New Normal? - 19th Aug 14
The Coming U.S. Economic Collapse Will Trigger a Revolution - 19th Aug 14
Market Bubbles, Bubbles Everywhere - 19th Aug 14
This is Your Economic Recovery With and Without Drugs - 19th Aug 14
Stock Market Strong Start to Jackson Hole Week - 19th Aug 14
Iraq, Ukraine - Oh, What A Tangled Mess We Weave - 19th Aug 14
How to Apply Moving Averages as a Trading Tool - Video - 18th Aug 14
Why Short Stock Traders Are Losing Money This Week - 18th Aug 14
Stock Market Rally May be Complete - 18th Aug 14
Why Chinese Citizens Invest In Gold - 18th Aug 14
Palladium Reaches 13-Year High Over $900 oz as Gold Trading Volumes Surge 66% - 18th Aug 14
Understand and Profit from Surging European Volatility - 18th Aug 14
No Escape from The Dollar as The Currency Standard - 18th Aug 14
Stock Market New Highs Less Certain - 18th Aug 14
German Stock Market DAX About To Drop - 18th Aug 14
Stay on Board - Stock Market Big Picture - 18th Aug 14
Europe Economy Is Tanking, QE Is Coming - 18th Aug 14
Are You Ready for The Greatest Technology Revolution Yet? - 17th Aug 14
Why King Coal is Bigger than Oil or Gas - 17th Aug 14
U.S. Empire of Death and Lies - 17th Aug 14
Ukraine - Whose Spin Are We Caught Up In Here? - 17th Aug 14
Time Decay And No Escape For Abenomics - 17th Aug 14
India BSE SENSEX The Party Is Over In Bombay - 17th Aug 14
Stock Market Uptrend Looks Underway - 17th Aug 14
The Key Role Of Conspiracy Theory In Dumbing Down Society - 17th Aug 14
The Federal Reserve in Denial Mode - Bond Market Explained - 17th Aug 14

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis


Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

The Biggest lie in Stock Market History Revealed

Operation Twist a Primer for QE3 Money Printing?

Interest-Rates / Quantitative Easing Oct 04, 2011 - 02:01 PM GMT

By: Axel_Merk

Interest-Rates

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleIs Operation Twist a failure? The stock market plunged in disappointment when it was announced. Keynesians are tearing their hair out in frustration, as it appears the Fed failed to ramp up the printing press. Free marketers are disgusted by the blatant manipulation of the yield curve. A number of Federal Reserve (Fed) President Bernanke’s colleagues dissented and/or are voicing public opposition. However, as the dust settles, it appears there is a method to the twist: Bernanke may have a plan…


To understand where we may be heading, let’s look at where we have come from. Below is a graphical depiction of the Federal Reserve’s holdings of Treasury securities on its balance sheet; the different colors represent the evolving composition of the maturity of assets held by the Fed:

One does not need to be an economist to see that the Fed has already been “twisting” its holdings of Treasury securities. It used to be that over 50% of Treasuries held by the Fed had a maturity of less than a year. That portion has already shrunk dramatically. Operation Twist is going to focus on the purple shading, replacing many of these securities with longer-dated ones. Differently said, Operation Twist really is nothing new, but an extension and expansion of policies in place since 2008.

Indeed, Bernanke has a playbook, hiding in plain sight: in his 2002 speech that earned Bernanke his nickname as “Helicopter Ben”, he laid out his plan when faced with the threat of deflation. Whereas his predecessor Paul Volcker took years to convince the markets that the Fed was serious about fighting inflation, Bernanke appears to be relentless in trying to convince the markets that deflation is not going to happen in his back yard. But why not simply print more money as the economy has slowed (engage in “QE3”)?

It looks like Bernanke at least wants to maintain the appearance of keeping long-term inflation expectations low. Earlier this year, Bernanke complained a few times that the risk-reward ratio of another round of easing is not all that clear. Well, how about making it clearer, by:

  • First crushing the short end of the yield curve by committing to keep interest rates low until the middle of 2013.
  • Then lower long-term interest rates by initiating “Operation Twist”, the selling of short-term securities by the Fed in the billions, then reinvesting the proceeds in long-term securities.

Add to that overall gloomy economic data, and conditions may be ripe for inflation expectations, as priced into bond price differential with and without inflation protection, to drop. Sure enough, that is exactly what has been playing out; the chart below depicts inflation expectations over a nine year period, beginning one year from today (referred to as “forward” inflation expectations, as it filters out inflation expectations over the short-term; this approach helps adjust for inflation shocks that may be presumed to be transitory in nature).

What this chart shows is that recent communication and action by the Fed may have contributed to an environment closer to where Bernanke would like to see: with inflation expectations low, Bernanke is back in familiar territory, able to print more money. A reason why the Fed first needed to set the stage is because the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) has a couple of outspoken hawks1 that, as we have alluded to, are not afraid to voice their dissent:

Incidentally, the 2012 FOMC composition reflects that hawks are snowbirds; only one hawk will remain. A stranded hawk may be noisy (dissent and speak out), but might stand little chance against a flight of doves2:

Let us review the Bernanke playbook; all quotes below are taken from his 2002 speech:

Bernanke is determined

  • “First, the Fed should try to preserve a buffer zone”, i.e. an implicit or explicit inflation target between 1 and 3 percent.
  • “Second, the Fed should take most seriously … its responsibility to ensure financial stability.”
  • “Third, …the central bank should act more preemptively and more aggressively…”

Bernanke on Operation Twist:

  • “One relatively straightforward extension of current procedures would be to try to stimulate spending by lowering rates further out along the Treasury term structure – that is, rates on government bonds of longer maturities.”
  • “I personally prefer…for the Fed to begin announcing explicit ceilings for yields on longer-maturity Treasury debt (say, bonds maturing within the next two years)."
  • “The Fed might next consider attempting to influence directly the yields on privately issued securities…the Fed to offer fixed-term loans to banks at low or zero interest, with a wide range of private assets (including, among others, corporate bonds, commercial paper, bank loans, and mortgages) deemed eligible as collateral. "

Bernanke may want a weaker dollar:

  • “U.S. dollars have value only to the extent that they are strictly limited in supply. But the U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press…that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollar as it wishes at essentially no cost.”
  • “By increasing the number of U.S. dollars in circulation, or even by credibly threatening to do so, the U.S. government can also reduce the value of a dollar…”
  • “The Fed has the authority to buy foreign government debt… Potentially, this class of assets offers huge scope for Fed operations, as the quantity of foreign assets eligible for purchase by the Fed is several times the stock of U.S.”

While Bernanke cautions that the Fed might step on the toes of the Treasury by targeting a weaker U.S. dollar, he actively embraces a weaker currency as a tool to spur nominal growth. Bernanke’s primary concern appears to be not one of determination, but one of calibration: “One important concern in practice is that calibrating the economic effects of nonstandard means of injecting money may be difficult, given our relative lack of experience with such policies.”

Enough said. While the markets have been “disappointed”, when push comes to shove, Bernanke has stuck to his playbook. He has paved the way for QE3. We have argued that there may not be such a thing as a safe asset anymore, and that investors may want to take a diversified approach to something as mundane as cash. Investors may want to actively manage their U.S. dollar risk, be that for their domestic or international investments. After all, investors may want to position their portfolios to take the risk that Bernanke will do what he has said into account.

We manage the Merk Hard Currency Fund, the Merk Asian Currency Fund, the Merk Absolute Return Currency Fund, as well as the Merk Currency Enhanced U.S. Equity Fund. Please join us for our Quarter 3 Merk Webinar on Thursday, October, 20th at 4:00pm ET / 1:00pm PT.

To learn more about the Funds, please visit www.merkfunds.com. Please sign up to our newsletter to stay in the loop as this discussion evolves.

By Axel Merk

Manager of the Merk Hard, Asian and Absolute Return Currency Funds, www.merkfunds.com

Axel Merk, President & CIO of Merk Investments, LLC, is an expert on hard money, macro trends and international investing. He is considered an authority on currencies. Axel Merk wrote the book on Sustainable Wealth; order your copy today.

The Merk Absolute Return Currency Fund seeks to generate positive absolute returns by investing in currencies. The Fund is a pure-play on currencies, aiming to profit regardless of the direction of the U.S. dollar or traditional asset classes.

The Merk Asian Currency Fund seeks to profit from a rise in Asian currencies versus the U.S. dollar. The Fund typically invests in a basket of Asian currencies that may include, but are not limited to, the currencies of China, Hong Kong, Japan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

The Merk Hard Currency Fund seeks to profit from a rise in hard currencies versus the U.S. dollar. Hard currencies are currencies backed by sound monetary policy; sound monetary policy focuses on price stability.

The Funds may be appropriate for you if you are pursuing a long-term goal with a currency component to your portfolio; are willing to tolerate the risks associated with investments in foreign currencies; or are looking for a way to potentially mitigate downside risk in or profit from a secular bear market. For more information on the Funds and to download a prospectus, please visit www.merkfunds.com.

Investors should consider the investment objectives, risks and charges and expenses of the Merk Funds carefully before investing. This and other information is in the prospectus, a copy of which may be obtained by visiting the Funds' website at www.merkfunds.com or calling 866-MERK FUND. Please read the prospectus carefully before you invest.

The Funds primarily invest in foreign currencies and as such, changes in currency exchange rates will affect the value of what the Funds own and the price of the Funds' shares. Investing in foreign instruments bears a greater risk than investing in domestic instruments for reasons such as volatility of currency exchange rates and, in some cases, limited geographic focus, political and economic instability, and relatively illiquid markets. The Funds are subject to interest rate risk which is the risk that debt securities in the Funds' portfolio will decline in value because of increases in market interest rates. The Funds may also invest in derivative securities which can be volatile and involve various types and degrees of risk. As a non-diversified fund, the Merk Hard Currency Fund will be subject to more investment risk and potential for volatility than a diversified fund because its portfolio may, at times, focus on a limited number of issuers. For a more complete discussion of these and other Fund risks please refer to the Funds' prospectuses.

This report was prepared by Merk Investments LLC, and reflects the current opinion of the authors. It is based upon sources and data believed to be accurate and reliable. Opinions and forward-looking statements expressed are subject to change without notice. This information does not constitute investment advice. Foreside Fund Services, LLC, distributor.

Axel Merk Archive

© 2005-2014 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