Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.War on Cash, Bank of England Planning Hyper QE, Scrapping Cash for Digital Currency - Nadeem_Walayat
2.Stock Market End Run Smash Crash Looks Imminent... - Clive_Maund
3.Europe Refugee Crisis, UK to Repatriate 120,000 Hungarian Economic Migrants Back to Hungary - Nadeem_Walayat
4.The Great Deflation Will Destroy All Bubbles – These Too - Harry_Dent
5.Deflation Signals Abound for U.S. Dollar, Forex Markets and Commodities - Rambus_Chartology
6.U.S. Housing Market Two Outs in The Bottom of The Ninth - James_Quinn
7.Poland, Czech, Slovakia and Hungary Refugee Hypocrisy After Flooding UK with 4 Million Economic Migrants - Nadeem_Walayat
8.The Two Real Reasons Crude Oil Prices Are Currently Slipping - Dr. Kent Moors
9.R.I.P. Interest Rates - Andrew Snyder
10.Steps from a Deep October Stock Market Selloff - Bob_Loukas
Last 5 days
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
Redesigning Internet and Facebook to Explore Their Full Potentialities... - 5th Oct 15
Nightshades Curb Your Enthusiasm - 5th Oct 15
U.S. Recession Watch, High-Yield – Rising Defaults - 5th Oct 15
The Social Challenge to Find Humanity in Capitalism - 5th Oct 15
Fed Interest Rate Hike: "I don't care. It doesn't really make much of a difference" - 5th Oct 15
Gold Rose 2.2%, Silver Surged 5.4% After Poor Jobs Number On Friday - 5th Oct 15
Gold, Silver Precious Metals: a Critical Week Ahead - 5th Oct 15
Stock Market Correction Still in Force - 5th Oct 15
Gold Price Change in Character - 5th Oct 15
Putin’s Blitz Leaves Washington Rankled and Confused - 4th Oct 15
More Selling for Stock Market, Gold? - 4th Oct 15
Gold And Silver – A Reality Check - 3rd Oct 15
Stock Market Primary IV Still, or Primary V Underway? - 3rd Oct 15
The Oil Industry’s Day of Reckoning - 3rd Oct 15
U.S. Interest Rate Hikes Keep On Slippin' Into the Future; Treasury Yields Sink Again - 3rd Oct 15
China's Stock Market Crashing; Time for Panic or Restraint - 3rd Oct 15
SPX Stocks Bulls Struggle to Regain the Upper hand... - 2nd Oct 15
The Two Faces of Stock Market Volatility - 2nd Oct 15
Money Supply and the Fed’s Serious Inflation Risks - 2nd Oct 15
Stock Market How Bad Can This Get, And How Fast? - 2nd Oct 15
A Worrying Set Of Recession Signals - 2nd Oct 15
Negative Jobs Report Sents SPX, TNX Lower - 2nd Oct 15
Don't be Fooled by the Recent Equity market Rallies. Its a Bear Market, Stupid! - 2nd Oct 15
US Bond Market - How to Fix This - 2nd Oct 15
Survival Secrets from Colorado Resource Investing Front Lines - 2nd Oct 15
What Two Risks From Rising Interest-Rates Could Each Trigger A New Global Crisis? - 1st Oct 15
Stock Market S&P 500 Volatility-Based Price Probability Range - 1st Oct 15
Dow Stock Market About To Crash Like October 1929? Get Your Physical Silver - 1st Oct 15
Stock Market Negative Expectations Once Again - Will It Break Down? - 1st Oct 15
Advice for Biotech Investors: 'Hold Your Powder' 'til Winter - 1st Oct 15
Best Short-Term Commodity Market Opportunities - Video - 1st Oct 15

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Fed Policy Change That Will Increase the Gold Price

Commodities / Gold and Silver 2013 Dec 18, 2013 - 03:13 PM GMT

By: Douglas_French


For investors having a rooting interest in the price of gold, the catalyst for a recovery may be in sight. "Buy gold if you believe in math," Brent Johnson, CEO of Santiago Capital, recently told CNBC viewers.

Johnson says central banks are printing money faster than gold is being pulled from the ground, so the gold price must go up. Johnson is on the right track, but central banks have partners in the money creation business—commercial banks. And while the FFed has been huffing and puffing and blowing up its balance sheet, banks have been licking their wounds and laying low. Money has been cheap on Wall Street the last five years, but hard to find on Main Street.

Professor Steve Hanke, professor of Applied Economics at Johns Hopkins University, explains that the Fed creates roughly 15% of the money supply (what he calls "state money"), while the banks create "bank money," which is the remaining 85% of the money supply.

Higher interest rates actually provide banks the incentive to lend. So while investors worry about a Fed taper and higher rates, it is exactly what is needed to spur lending, employment, and money creation.

The Fed has pumped itself up, but not much has happened outside of Wall Street. However, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), during their October meeting, talked of making a significant policy change that might unleash a torrent of liquidity through the commercial banking system.

Alan Blinder pointed out in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that the meeting minutes included a discussion of excess reserves and "[M]ost participants thought that a reduction by the Board of Governors in the interest rate paid on excess reserves could be worth considering at some stage."

Blinder was once the vice chairman at the Fed, so when he interprets the minutes' tea leaves to mean the voting members "love the idea," he's probably right. Of course "at some stage" could mean anytime, and there's plenty of room in the word "reduction"—25 basis points worth anyway. Maybe more if you subscribe to Blinder's idea of banks paying a fee to keep excess reserves at the central bank.

Commercial banks are required a keep a certain amount of money on deposit at the Fed based upon how much they hold in customer deposits. Banking being a leveraged business, bankers don't normally keep any more money than they have to at the Fed so they can use the money to make loans or buy securities and earn interest. Anything extra they keep at the Fed is called excess reserves.

Up until when Lehman Brothers failed in September of 2008, excess reserves were essentially zero. A month later, the central bank began paying banks 25 basis points on these reserves  and five years later banks—mostly the huge mega-banks—have $2.5 trillion parked in excess reserves.

I heard a bank stock analyst tell an investment crowd this past summer the banks don't really benefit from the 25 basis points, but we're talking $6.25 billion a year in income the banks have been receiving courtesy of a change made during the panicked heart of bailout season 2008. This has been a pure government subsidy to the banking industry, and one the public has been blissfully ignorant of.

But now everything looks rosy in Bankland again. The banks collectively made $36 billion in the third quarter after earning over $42 billion the previous quarter—showing big profits by reserving a fraction of what they had previously for loan losses.

The primary regulator for many banks—the FDIC—is even cutting its operating budget 11%, citing the recovery of the industry. The deposit insurer will have one short of 7,200 employees on the job in 2014.

That's a third of the number it had in 1991 after the S&L crisis, but almost 3,000 more than it had in 2007 just before the financial crisis.

So with all of this good news, the Fed may indeed be thinking they can pull out the 25bp lifeline and the banks will be just fine. What Blinder thinks and hopes is the banks will use that $2.5 trillion to make loans. After all, one-year Treasury notes yield just 13 basis points, while the two-year only kicks off 31bps. Institutional money market rates are even lower.

Up until recently, banks haven't been active lenders. The industry loan-to-deposit ratio reflects a tepid loan environment. During the boom, this ratio was over 100%. Now it hovers near 75%. It turns out that what the Fed has been paying—25 basis points—has been the best source of income for that $2.5 trillion.

However, banks won't be able to cut their loan loss reserves to significant profits for much longer. Loan balances have grown at the nation's banks the last two quarters and this will have to continue. If the Fed stopped paying interest on excess reserves and bank lending continues to increase, those $2.5 trillion in excess reserves could turn into multiples of that in money creation.

Banks create money when they lend. As Blinder explains, Fed-injected reserves are lent "creating multiple expansions of the money supply and credit. Bank reserves were called 'high-powered money' because each new dollar of reserves led to several additional dollars of money and credit."

Fans of the yellow metal, like Mr. Johnson who sees the price going to $5,000 per ounce, have likely been too focused on the Fed's balance sheet when it's the banks that create most of the money.

When the Fed announces it won't pay any more interest on excess reserves, and banks start lending in earnest again, the price of gold will be very interesting to watch.

And when that happens, you'll want to be prepared. Find out all you need to know about the best ways to invest in gold—in the FREE 2014 Gold Investor's Guide. Click here to read it now.

© 2013 Copyright Casey Research - 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.

Casey Research Archive

© 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