I don’t want to harsh anyone’s buzz. So, if you’re still basking in the afterglow of the elections or simply working on focusing on happy thoughts today, then, (1) good for you and, (2) skip this post. This way lies sadness.
Yesterday brought us a pretty sobering analysis of the U.S. economic situation in light of the Feds new round of Quantitative Easing, a.k.a., QE2, from John Browne, Senior Market Strategist at Euro Pacific Capital. The whole thing is worth your time, but here are a couple of excerpts with comments. Browne begins by explaining QE2 and its objectives:
Despite its paternalistic rhetoric, the Fed really has just a few simple goals: allow for the perpetual expansion of the federal deficit, push up stock prices to create the illusion of wealth, and stimulate consumer spending. To do this, the Fed will hold interest rates near zero for the foreseeable future, and will buy some $600 billion of US Treasury debt by April of next year.
So, the Fed is printing money and using it to buy our government’s debt in the form of Treasury bonds. Now, upon hearing this, you may be wondering how the above scheme represents an “injection” of money in to the economy. Keep in mind that over the last two years, supposedly in order to unfreeze the credit markets, the Fed has been printing money like crazy and loaning to banks at 0% interest. And those banks have been taking that free money and loaning it to the government at whatever interest rate Treasuries are paying.
That’s great work if you can get it. But it doesn’t create a lot of jobs. Browne continues:
Having already committed $1.7 trillion in the first round of quantitative easing, the Fed is rolling the dice once again – despite ample evidence that their costly remedy won’t work.
Exactly. As I’ve pointed out in this space before, we are seeing a pathetically weak recovery in jobs because the Obama Administration has been waging and continues to wage a multi-pronged attack on the job creating class, i.e., businesses. Virtually every department of the Executive branch has been involved in some form of assault on business owners. Why? Because doctrinaire liberals are fundamentally opposed to (non-unionized) business and view profits, profit-seeking, and rational business practices like hiring the best qualified candidate regardless of race or gender and firing slackers as evil.
So back to my original question . . . How does is the Fed buying a bunch of government debt supposed to help revive the economy? Browne helps us with that:
Now, by monetizing almost the entire federal deficit through QE-2, the Fed hopes to give Congress the breathing room to enact reforms before skyrocketing interest rates bankrupt the Treasury. Meanwhile, the central bank hopes that the expected inflationary consequences will be nullified by a resulting broad-based recovery. But an economist as knowledgeable and experienced as Chairman Bernanke should know by now that any real economic revival will come from private industry, not government. The money printed by the Fed will indeed flow into the economy, where it will push up asset prices in many sectors. Already commodity prices are soaring. But inflation cannot create real growth.
Exactly right. But please note Browne’s point that the primary goal of QE2 has been to stave off the national bankruptcy crisis caused by the skyrocketing Obama-Reid-Pelosi deficits long enough for Congress to “enact reforms” that will help businesses (or at least stop threatening them). Meanwhile the Dems who still handily control both houses of Congress until January continue to talk about enacting Cap-and-Trade legislation.
What the Fed is doing, essentially, is forcing consumers to spend their cash hoardings. Until the economic and financial policies of the government change dramatically, those who are tempted to invest their savings within the United States risk increasing regime uncertainty. So, much of our domestic capital is flowing into hard assets and overseas markets.
This will do nothing to help the festering wounds underlying the US economy.
Yes. But here’s the problem. Even after January, the real war on business is likely to continue through the Executive Branch via Obama’s surrogates–Holder at Justice; Sibelius at HHS; Solis at Labor; Jackson at EPA; and so on.
What would it take to see those policies reversed before January of 2013 when a new president can be sworn in? Only a bunch of doctrinaire socialists changing pretty much everything they believe and think about the way the world works. That’s all.