Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.SNP Offers Labour Deadly Death Embrace Alliance, Holding England to Ransom, Destroy UK From Within - Nadeem_Walayat
2.Gold And Silver – Most Widely Used Currency In Western World? Stupidity - Michael_Noonan
3.Election Forecast 2015 - Coalition Economic Recovery vs Labour Collapse - Nadeem_Walayat
4.Election Forecast 2015 - Debates Boost Labour Into Opinion Polls Seats Lead - Nadeem_Walayat
5.Why are Interest Rates So Low? Ben Bernanke, Confused as Ever, Starts His Own Blog to Prove It - Mike_Shedlock
6.Leaders Debate Election 2015 - Natalie Bennett Green Party Convincing Anti-Austerity More Debt Argument - Nadeem_Walayat
7.Labour Economic Collapse vs Coalition Recovery - UK Election Forecast 2015 - Video - Nadeem_Walayat
8.China’s Stock Market Mania; How High can Red-chips Fly? - Gary_Dorsch
9.Gold and Misery, Strange Bedfellows - 31st Mar 15 - Dan_Norcini
10.Ed Miliband Debate Election 2015 Analysis - Labour Spending, Debt and Economic Collapse - Nadeem_Walayat
Last 5 days
Sheffield Hallam Election Battle 2015, School Places Crisis, Can Nick Clegg Win? - 26th Apr 15
Stocks Bull Market Looks to Resume - 25th Apr 15
Gold And Silver - The U.S. Is A Corporation. Precious Metals Stand In The Way - 25th Apr 15
When the Nuclear Money Option Fails - 25th Apr 15
The War on Cash Special Report - 25th Apr 15
China Economic Slowdown Story - Why “Didi Dache” Is a Phrase You Need to Know - 25th Apr 15
The Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Death of the Republic - 25th Apr 15
Stock Splitting Caused the Stock Market Crash - 25th Apr 15
China Stock Market Parabolic Mania’s Global Risk - 24th Apr 15
What Will Happen to You When the U.S. Dollar Collapses? - 24th Apr 15
Why 2 of U.S. Dollar's Recent Bottoms Have 1 Thing In Common - 24th Apr 15
UK Economy Debt Timebomb Will Explode After Election - 24th Apr 15
Are Gold Stocks the Cheapest Ever? - 24th Apr 15
God, the Stock Market and Pascal's Wager - 24th Apr 15
Greedy Insurers Are in for a Nasty Surprise – Positioning You for Big Profits - 24th Apr 15
Four Things Missing From Obama’s First-Ever Energy Review - 24th Apr 15
How to Grow a Regenerative Medicine Industry - 23rd Apr 15
Stocks and Bonds Seven Year of Negative Returns; Fraudulent Promises - 23rd Apr 15
The Existential Danger To The Euro Is Elections - 23rd Apr 15
Stock Market No Clear Direction As Investors React To Quarterly Earnings Releases - 23rd Apr 15
Is China The Next United States? - 23rd Apr 15
U.S. Oil Glut: How High Can It Go? - 23rd Apr 15
Distorted Financial System Expect Deflation, Inflation And Hyperinflation - 23rd Apr 15
What McDonald’s Corporate Earnings Report Is Really Telling You - 23rd Apr 15
Gold Price Forecast to Become Priceless - 23rd Apr 15
FDIC Plots a Bank Heist Involving YOUR Accounts - 23rd Apr 15
$GOLD Price Year 2007 Again - 23rd Apr 15
Stocks Bubble - The Spread between Stock Prices and GDP is Blowing Out - 23rd Apr 15
Ukraine War - When Did We All Become Murderers? - 23rd Apr 15
Libya Crisis - EU Leaders Are Indicted for Nazi-Style Crimes against Humanity - 22nd Apr 15
Why Alternative Energy Isn’t Taking It on the Chin Despite Low Oil Prices - 22nd Apr 15
Bill Gross - German 10-Year Bunds Short of a Life Time - 22nd Apr 15
How to Profit from the Drop in the Oil Price - 22nd Apr 15
The U.S. Dollar's Move Is More Dangerous than You Think - 22nd Apr 15
Apple Watch Means Apple Will Become Worlds First $1 Trillion Stock - 22nd Apr 15
Half a Stocks Bubble Off Dead Center - 22nd Apr 15
They Said Go to College - Learning to become Debt Slaves - 22nd Apr 15
Best Cash ISA 2015/16, Instant and Fixed Savings Interest Rates, New Flexible Withdrawal / Deposit Rule - 22nd Apr 15
Unsound Banking: Why Most of the World's Banks Are Headed for Collapse - 21st Apr 15
Bitcoin Recent Low Price Volatility Might Be Deceptive - 21st Apr 15
Currency Wars Back As Russia Buys Gold - One Million Ounces in March Alone - 21st Apr 15
The Greece 'Grexit' Issue and the Problem of Free Trade - 21st Apr 15
Why Europe Lets People Drown - 21st Apr 15
Wealth Destruction for the 99.9 Percent - 21st Apr 15
SNP Publish England's Suicide Note as Pollsters Still Forecast Labour-SNP Election Disaster - 21st Apr 15
Characteristics of Extremely Over-Indebted Economies - 21st Apr 15
Trader Education Week -- a Free Event to Help You Learn to Spot Trading Opportunities - 21st Apr 15
Gold & Silver Alert: Silver Stocks’ Signal - 20th Apr 15
Now is the Time to Buy Resource Stocks, Especially Gold Equities - 20th Apr 15
DJ Transportation & Utility Averages Suggest Stocks Bull Market Is Over - 20th Apr 15
Crude Oil Price Bull Market Hope - 20th Apr 15
Stock Market Bears Get Slaughtered Despite Greece Counting Down to Grexit Financial Armageddon - 20th Apr 15
The Rise of the Paper Machines - 20th Apr 15
Gold and Silver Inflection Point - 20th Apr 15
SP500: A Butcher's Stock Market (Chop Chop Chop) - 20th Apr 15
Are Stock Market Bears Slowly Gaining Control? - 20th Apr 15
Sugar Commodity Price Bear Rally - 19th Apr 15
Avoid the Spread of the Stock Market "China Syndrome" - 19th Apr 15
Stock Market Going Nowhere Fast - 19th Apr 15
An Easy Way to Profit From the Two Biggest Trends in the Stock Market - 19th Apr 15
No Scripture Is Divine, Authentic and Beyond the Creation of the Human Brain - 19th Apr 15

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis


Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

US Historic Bubble

Did Bernanke Prevent Another Great Depression?

Politics / US Economy Apr 22, 2012 - 07:02 AM GMT

By: Frank_Shostak

Politics

Diamond Rated - Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleIn a lecture given at George Washington University on March 27, 2012, the chairman of the Fed said that the US central bank's aggressive response to the 2007–2009 financial crisis and recession helped prevent a worldwide catastrophe. Various economic indicators were showing ominous signs at the time. After closing at 3.1 percent in September 2007, the yearly rate of growth of industrial production fell to minus 14.8 percent by June 2009. The yearly rate of growth of housing starts fell from 20.5 percent in January 2005 to minus 54.8 percent in January 2009.


Also, retail sales came under severe pressure — year on year, the rate of growth fell from 5.2 percent in November 2007 to minus 11.5 percent by August 2008. The unemployment rate jumped from 4.4 percent in March 2007 to 10 percent by October 2009. During this period, the number of unemployed people increased from 13.389 million to 15.421 million — an increase of 2.032 million.

In response to the collapse of the key economic data and a fear of a financial meltdown, the US central bank aggressively pumped money into the banking system. As a result, the Federal Reserve balance sheet jumped from $0.884 trillion in February 2008 to $2.247 trillion in December 2008. The yearly rate of growth of the balance sheet climbed from 1.5 percent in February 2008 to 152.8 percent by December of that year. Additionally the Fed aggressively lowered the federal-funds rate target from 5.25 percent in August 2007 to almost nil by December 2008.

Despite this pumping, the growth momentum of commercial-bank lending had been declining with the yearly rate of growth falling from 11.9 percent in January 2007 to minus 5.3 percent by November 2009. As a result of the fall in the growth momentum of lending, the growth momentum of the money supply would have followed suit if not for the Fed's aggressive pumping to the commercial paper market. This pushed the yearly rate of growth of our measure of US money supply from 1.5 percent in April 2008 to 14.3 percent by August 2009.

In his speech Bernanke blamed reckless lending in the housing market and financial engineering for the economic crisis. He also acknowledged that the supervision by the Fed was inadequate. According to Bernanke, once the crises emerged the Fed had to act aggressively in order to prevent the crisis from developing into a serious economic disaster. The Fed chairman holds that a highly accommodative monetary policy helps support economic recovery and employment.

We hold that various reckless activities in the housing market couldn't have emerged without the Fed's previous reckless policies. After closing at 6.5 percent in December 2000, the federal-funds rate target was lowered to 1 percent by May 2004. The yearly rate of growth of our monetary measure, AMS, jumped from minus 0.9 percent in December 2000 to 11.5 percent by December 2001. In short, the strong increase in the growth momentum of money supply coupled with an aggressive lowering of interest rates set the platform for various bubble activities, or an economic boom.

A reversal of the Fed's loose stance put an end to the false boom and put pressure on various bubble activities. The federal-funds-rate target was lifted from 1 percent in May 2004 to 5.25 percent by June 2006. The yearly rate of growth of AMS plunged from 11.5 percent in December 2001 to 0.6 percent in May 2007. As it happened, the effect of this tightening was felt in the housing market first before it spilled over to other bubble sectors. (A tighter monetary stance slowed down the diversion of real savings toward bubble activities from wealth-generating activities.)

Contrary to Bernanke, we suggest that his loose monetary policy of August 2007 didn't save the US economy but saved various bubble activities that had come under pressure from the previous tighter monetary stance.

Note the loose monetary stance has been aggressively diverting real funding from wealth generators towards bubble activities, thereby weakening the wealth-generation process. The only reason why loose monetary policy supposedly "revived" the economy is because there are still enough wealth generators to support the Fed's reckless policy. Also, note that all the gains from the previous tighter stance have now been wasted to support bubble activities.

As long as the pool of real savings is still growing, Fed policy makers can get away with the illusion that they have saved the US and the world economies. Once the pool of real savings starts stagnating, or worse, declining, the illusory nature of the Fed's policy will be revealed — note that the economy follows the state of the pool of real savings. Any aggressive monetary policy in this case is going to make things much worse.

The actions of Bernanke to revive the economy run contrary to the basic principles of running a company. For instance, in a company of 10 departments, 8 departments are making profits and the other 2 losses. A responsible CEO will shut down or restructure the 2 departments that make losses — failing to do so will divert funding from wealth generators toward loss-making departments, thus weakening the foundation of the entire company. Without the removal or restructuring of the loss-making departments, there is the risk that the entire company could eventually go belly up. So why then should a CEO who decides to support nonprofitable activities be regarded as a failure when Bernanke and his central-bank colleagues are seen as heroes who saved the economy?

Bernanke is of the view that by pumping money he has provided the necessary liquidity to keep the financial system going. We suggest that this is false. What permits the financial sector to push ahead is real savings. The financial sector does not have a life of its own; its only role is to facilitate the real wealth that was generated by the wealth producers. Remember that banks are just intermediaries; they facilitate real savings across the economy by means of money (the medium of exchange).

By flooding the banking system with money, one doesn't create more real savings but, on the contrary, depletes the pool of real funding. Most commentators are of the view that in some cases when there is a threat of serious damage to the financial system the central bank should intervene to prevent the calamity, and this is precisely what Bernanke's Fed did.

We suggest the severe threat here is to various bubble activities that must be removed in order to allow wealth generators to get on with the job of creating wealth. If a lot of bubbles must disappear, so be it. Any policy to support bubbles, be it large banks or other institutions, will only make things much worse. As we have seen, if the pool of real savings is not there, a central-bank policy to prop up bubbles will make things much worse. After all, the Fed cannot generate real wealth.

Bernanke's policy — which amounts to the protection of inefficiency, i.e., bubble activities — runs the risk of generating a prolonged slump with occasional rallies in the data. It could be something similar to the situation in Japan (which Bernanke has in the past criticized).

Summary and Conclusion
We can conclude that, contrary to Bernanke, his loose policies didn't save the US economy from a depression but have instead damaged the process of real wealth generation.

Bernanke's loose policies have provided support to bubble activities, thereby destabilizing the economy. So in this sense his policies have saved the bubbles, thus undermining wealth generators.

We suggest that the more forceful the Fed's response to various economic indicators is, the more damage this does to the pool of real savings. This runs the risk that at some stage the United States could end up having a stagnating or worse, declining, pool of real savings.


If this were to occur, then we could end up of having a severe economic slump. If anyone needs examples in this regard, have a look at countries such as Greece, Spain, and Portugal.

Over a prolonged period of time the policies of these countries (an ever-growing government and central-bank involvement in the economy) have severely damaged the heart of economic growth — the pool of real savings.

Again, if the pool of real savings is to become stagnant, or worse, starts declining, any attempt by the Fed to make things better is going to make things actually much worse by depleting the pool of real savings or funding further. If the pool of real funding is stagnating, then no matter how much pumping the Fed does, banks will not be able to lift lending. Remember: without expanding real funding any expansion in credit could lead to financial disaster.

Frank Shostak is an adjunct scholar of the Mises Institute and a frequent contributor to Mises.org. He is chief economist of M.F. Global. Send him mail. See Frank Shostak's article archives. Comment on the blog.

© 2012 Copyright Frank Shostak - 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.


Comments

Anonymouse
22 Apr 12, 21:47
Questionable regulation destroys investors savings

Greenspan/Bernanke have destroyed not only the savings dynamics since 2000, they have deeply damaged the older savings pool by forcing people into the market where their money was wasted by the illegal/immoral actions of the big banks and the inept/questionable motives of the regulatory agencies not acting in the best interests of the investors, but playing politics with the investors futures.


Conrad Jones (Cheam)
26 Apr 12, 07:46
Free Market Economy

In a Free Market Economy - (note the words "Free" and "Market"), the Economy would not be depenedent on One Man - who just happens to be unelected.


Post Comment

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

Free Report - Financial Markets 2014