In the long term, QE2 is obviously not a sustainable course. Nonetheless, QE2 can continue as long as (1) the United States remains politically stable, (2) the U.S. dollar remains the world reserve currency and (3) the value of the U.S. dollar strengthens, remains flat or decays in a controlled manner, i.e., at a relatively stable, gradual rate. Although Bernanke clearly believes that the risks are contained, the Federal Reserve’s policies are, in fact, debasing the U.S. dollar and have already guaranteed the end of the U.S. dollar as the world reserve currency.
We as a nation need to understand that the problems we face are not ones that can be dealt with by business as usual. Keynesian stimulus is precisely the wrong medicine. The problem is one of too much debt. We were promised by Bernanke in 2002 that if the Fed moved out the yield curve, long rates would come down. The opposite has happened. Since the beginning of QE2 mortgage rates have risen by 1%. The yield on the ten-year bond is up over 1% since the announcement of QE2.
For the past century or so, the biological origin of oil seemed to be the accepted norm. However, there remained a small group of critics who pushed the idea that, instead, oil is generated from inorganic matter within the earth's mantle. The question might have remained within the limits of a specialized debate among geologists, as it has been until not long ago. However, the recent supply problems have pushed crude oil to the center stage of international news.
In early year discussions I commented on thoughts regarding consensus thinking for US GDP growth this year. Call it a 3.5-4% range of possibility. The about face in most Street economist prognostications relative to last summer has been very much dramatic, but easily understandable in light of 1) the magnitude of Fed sponsored POMO activity that began in late August of last year and the ultimate follow on QE2 announcement and implementation, and 2) the tax cut extension legislation that adds an incremental approximate $350 billion of new US government spending/stimulus in the current year.
To the right is a picture of a dog. In order to simplify this discussion in such a way those even Silver momentum traders might understand it, we have placed a circle around the approximate location of the dog’s brain and a rectangle around the tail. At this point, we should all be together.
The yield curve (or spread) is the difference between the short rates (set by the Fed) and the yield on the longer-dated bond. The yield spread is now about its widest in 40 years. This is a boon to the banks, which can borrow for almost nothing and then buy the long-maturity bonds and rake in the money. This is what the Fed wants; when the banks become bloated with money, they have four choices -- they can make crazy investments (like they did with home mortgages), they can increase their dividends, they can pay the money out in bonuses, or they can lend the money to businesses who really need credit.
The Amphora Report
DEFENSIVE NOTES ON THE MARGIN: Investors sharing our view that financial assets in general are fundamentally overvalued in real, purchasing-power terms naturally seek to preserve wealth in alternative assets, including commodities. However, while commodities may indeed be more fairly valued, that does not mean that they can decouple entirely from developments in financial markets. Should equity markets suffer a major correction, commodity prices are also likely to fall, in particular those for industrial commodities.
Mubarak resigned, journalists packed their gear, and CNN went back to talking about obesity statistics - but Egypt's troubles are far from over. After weeks of protests (leading to strikes and, understandably, no tourists), the country's economy took an estimated 1.5 billion-dollar punch to the face.