Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.Stocks Bear Market Apocalypse Imminent Crash Gets Nuked Again - Nadeem_Walayat
2.Gold And Silver – A Reality Check - Michael_Noonan
3.The Killer Ape, Human Evolution, Artificial Intelligence and Extinction End Game - Nadeem_Walayat
4.Stock Market S&P 500 Volatility-Based Price Probability Range - Richard_Shaw
5.A Stocks Bear Market Is Now More Likely Than Not - Richard_Shaw
6.Money Supply and the Fed’s Serious Inflation Risks - Zeal_LLC
7.More Selling for Stock Market, Gold? - Brad_Gudgeon
8.Gold, Silver Precious Metals: a Critical Week Ahead - Rambus_Chartology
9.Gold Price Change in Character - Gary_Savage
10.Advice for Biotech Investors: 'Hold Your Powder' 'til Winter - TLSReport
Last 5 days
Top 3 Technical Tools Part 3: MACD - Video Lesson - 13th Oct 15
An Introduction to Technofeudalism Ascending - 13th Oct 15
Stock Market S&P 500: Is it This Simple? - 12th Oct 15
Chanos: I'm a Potential Purchases or Glencore Stock - 12th Oct 15
IMF Fears $3 Trillion Credit Crunch; Lagarde Warns 'IMF Credibility at Stake' - 12th Oct 15
Structural Reasons For A Long-Term Financial Markets Decline - 12th Oct 15
New Hedge Fund Buying Enters Crude Oil Market - 12th Oct 15
Stock Market / GDX New Lows Coming: Panic Ahead? - 12th Oct 15
Stock Market Gains, but the “Super Crash” Is Accelerating - 11th Oct 15
October Stocks Bear Market and Crash Killer - 11th Oct 15
A Bifurcated U.S. Housing Market, How Much Longer Can Unaffordable Housing Prices Last? - 10th Oct 15
Stock Market Primary V to New Highs Underway - 10th Oct 15
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria - 10th Oct 15
Gold And Silver Trapped In A Low-End Trading Range - 10th Oct 15
Free Traders Educational Week - 10th Oct 15
Stock Market Rally May be Broken - 9th Oct 15
Gold Stocks Major Breakout - 9th Oct 15
Contrarian Investing - Being the 10th Man - 9th Oct 15
U.S. Can Expect Recession in 1-3 Years - 9th Oct 15
The Greater Economic Depression Deep State - 9th Oct 15
Financial Markets Calm Before the Storm? - 9th Oct 15
Stock Market History Calling, Says Performance will be Crappy for Another ~10 years! - 9th Oct 15
Why This Feels Like an Economic Depression for Most People - 9th Oct 15
Dr Copper Back from the Dead - Time to Buy or Blink - 8th Oct 15
Glencore Rout Blamed on Short Sellers Playing With CDS - 8th Oct 15
The Real Reason for the Refugee Crisis You Won’t Hear About in the Media - 8th Oct 15
US Stocks: The [Trend]Line Between Bull and Bear Market - 8th Oct 15
Bundesbank “Reassures” Re. Gold Bullion Reserves as Deutsche Bank Shocks With €6 Billion Loss Warning - 8th Oct 15
How Our Aversion To Change Leads Us Into Danger - 8th Oct 15
Moving Stem Cell Research Forward: Bernie Siegel of the Genetics Policy Institute - 8th Oct 15
Stock Market VERY IMPORTANT Turn Date - 7th Oct 15
The 5th Convergence…An Economic & Financial Superstorm That Will Devastate America - 7th Oct 15
Summers Grades Janet Yellen's Fed Performance 'Incomplete' - 7th Oct 15
Gold Versus Central Banks Paper Ponzi - 7th Oct 15
QE3 is Over Get Ready for QE4 - 7th Oct 15
How to Profit from Government Mandates in Biofuels - 7th Oct 15
A Key Oil Price Trend That Everyone Is Missing - 6th Oct 15
Stock Market Turn Appears to Have Been Made - 6th Oct 15
Designing a Dividend Growth Portfolio for a Specific Retirement Yield Objective - 6th Oct 15
Peter Schiff Predicts Gold Price Breakout - Video - 6th Oct 15
Theresa May Declares War on Immigration - Conference Speech Full Transcript - 6th Oct 15
Is Russia Plotting To Bring Down OPEC? - 6th Oct 15
Target Date Funds As Aid In Retirement Investment Portfolio Design - 6th Oct 15
Stocks Bear Market Apocalypse Imminent Crash Gets Nuked Again - 6th Oct 15

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Mervyn's Pringle Problem

Interest-Rates / UK Debt Oct 07, 2011 - 04:28 PM GMT

By: Adrian_Ash


Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleBank to Treasury: Forget credit easing. It's your debt that needs queasing...

UNLIKE PRINGLES tasty potato snacks, quantitative easing doesn't come with a resealable lid. So the famous sales line is only more true for central bankers:

"Once you pop, you can't stop!"

This, warns the historian, lurching out of the library stacks, is how Germany's infamous Weimar Republic moved from something like sanity to madness inside three years. A trickle when it started, "more and more paper [poured] from the Reichsbank presses" by January 1923, writes Adam Ferguson in his well-thumbed history, When Money Dies.

"During February the note circulation was being increased by a matter of 450 milliards every week. On a single day in early March, by way of Treasury bills discounted at the Reichsbank, the floating debt was increased by 800 milliards."

A milliard? It used to mean 1,000,000,000 – formerly known as 1,000 million but now called one billion even though it's a thousand times smaller. Still, that's inflation for you. One billion buys much less than it used to. Just ask Mervyn King.

"There is not enough money in the economy today," the Bank of England governor told ITN News on Thursday (and Sky, and the BBC, and everyone else) as he tried to explain why his team is adding £75 billion ($115bn) to the £200bn of quantitative easing they tried in 2009.

"That is why we have taken this measure to create money, in order to ensure that there is sufficient money to support the recovery, to support jobs, while ensuring that inflation remains close to our target."

Oh yeah? Mervyn King's target – of 2.0% annual inflation on the UK's official Consumer Price Index – hasn't been hit since autumn 2009. Inflation is now running at 4.5% per year and has exceeded Mervyn's official 3.0% limit in 20 of the 29 months since he first got his hands all covered with ink. So whatever this apparent "lack" of money might be doing to the UK today, it's hardly pulling down prices.

Nor will the new money help private-sector investment, not directly, even though – just this Monday – UK finance minister George Osborne declared he wanted "Credit Easing" to kick-start new borrowing by business to jump-start new growth. Poor George! He must have thought his birthday had come on Thursday morning, when Mervyn wrote to say the Bank wanted to print a fresh six per cent's worth of GDP in new cash.

"The structure and operation of the Asset Purchase Facility would be unchanged from that described [by] your predecessor," the governor winked in his letter.

"The APF continues to include facilites for eligible private sector assets," the chancellor winked back, "authorised up to a maximum of £50 billion."

But no! Within minutes of this cheery exchange being posted for the world to enjoy on the Bank's website, up went the Bank's plan for how it will spend this new money – every last penny on government bonds, and none of it on private-sector assets or loans!

And here's why...

Of its first £200bn in quantitative easing, the Bank of England spent all but £1.7 billion on UK government debt. Like the name says, the effect was to "ease with quantity" – pushing down longer-term interest rates, which the Bank can't ordinarily change through trading short-term debt bills, by bidding up longer-dated government bonds.

Government bonds pay a fixed income each year, so the higher the price, the lower the yield to new buyers. Hence the lower interest rates for other borrowers in the economy.

Trouble is, government bonds don't stand still. They shuffle towards maturity – that happy day when the current owner gets repayment of the money first borrowed from the bond market by the government. And as our chart shows, this slow shuffle has changed the way the Bank of England's gilt holdings stand, even though it's holding the very same UK gilts it bought between March 2009 and Jan. 2010.

QE1 is moving towards the short-end of maturities. Time for QE2. Because since the start of last year, that 70% of the Bank's £198bn spent on medium and long-dated gilts has turned into 60%. That means the 30% of its money spent on "Short dated" gilts has now become 40% held in "Short" and – yikes! – "Ultra-Short dated" gilts, set to mature in 3 years or less.

You won't need reminding how tight the UK's public finances are right now. Mervyn King certainly doesn't. But he does seem to think the chancellor needs telling – and pretty much in public, too. Fully 16% of that money printed last time around is starting to pile up at the short end...about to turn back into real cash. So to rebalance the queasing, trying to keep long-term rates down but with the government's total debt very much larger, the Bank has no choice but to target medium and longer-term gilts once again, buying (no kidding) 3-10 year gilts on Mondays, 25-year-and-over on Tuesdays, and 10-25 year debt on Wednesdays.

Now it's started, it can't stop.

By Adrian Ash

Gold price chart, no delay   |   Buy gold online at live prices

Formerly City correspondent for The Daily Reckoning in London and a regular contributor to MoneyWeek magazine, Adrian Ash is the editor of Gold News and head of research at , giving you direct access to investment gold, vaulted in Zurich , on $3 spreads and 0.8% dealing fees.

(c) BullionVault 2011

Please Note: This article is to inform your thinking, not lead it. Only you can decide the best place for your money, and any decision you make will put your money at risk. Information or data included here may have already been overtaken by events – and must be verified elsewhere – should you choose to act on it.

© 2005-2015 - 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

Biggest Debt Bomb in History