Thursday, April 30, 2009


Yesterday I noticed that a couple folks writing under the by-line, "AP Business Writer," headed an article under this gushing lede: "The Fed confirmed what Wall Street has already concluded: The recession is starting to ease." And in support of this bold statement they cited the fact that the Fed observed that the state of economic decline "appears to be somewhat slower."


Now I'm not looking to defend the FMOC, but in looking at the Fed's announcement yesterday, I ain't really seeing the optimism that our glorious financial press seems so desperate to see:
Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in March indicates that the economy has continued to contract, though the pace of contraction appears to be somewhat slower. Household spending has shown signs of stabilizing but remains constrained by ongoing job losses, lower housing wealth, and tight credit. Weak sales prospects and difficulties in obtaining credit have led businesses to cut back on inventories, fixed investment, and staffing. Although the economic outlook has improved modestly since the March meeting, partly reflecting some easing of financial market conditions, economic activity is likely to remain weak for a time. Nonetheless, the Committee continues to anticipate that policy actions to stabilize financial markets and institutions, fiscal and monetary stimulus, and market forces will contribute to a gradual resumption of sustainable economic growth in a context of price stability.
Now, I'm the first to posit that any Fed optimism in the face of what's really happening is irresponsible and ludicrous. But it just amazes me how desperately the mainstream financial press wants to paint a rosy picture that justifies ever more money seeping away from saving, in order to shunt it over to Wall St. and debt-financed consumerism. And as we know, this gilding of a wilting flower seems to work: Wall St. rallied yesterday.

Anyway, apart from the press' foolishness and the Fed's cheerleading (or is it the other way around), let's take a look at the substance of what the FOMC said yesterday:

In light of increasing economic slack here and abroad, the Committee expects that inflation will remain subdued. Moreover, the Committee sees some risk that inflation could persist for a time below rates that best foster economic growth and price stability in the longer term.

In these circumstances, the Federal Reserve will employ all available tools to promote economic recovery and to preserve price stability. The Committee will maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and anticipates that economic conditions are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period.
Maybe I should have characterized this as part of the "cheerleading" section, because I'm not seeing anything here that makes sense. Inflation (and they're talking about price inflation, since they've already inflated the money supply) will remain subdued . . . because the economy is retracting. The same economy that's slowing down more slowly than before. Ok (I guess). So the Fed will keep rates low . . . to promote price stability? Huh?

I think we can translate this as, "More money coming!" Why? Because that's what central banks do. They inflate. But, of course, the Fed says there won't be any "inflation," meaning price inflation. Ostensibly because it can just sop up all that money by selling its assets back into the economy when prices start to rise. And as we've addressed here before, what will it sell back, since the composition of the Fed balance sheet gets more and more questionable as time goes on. Well, let's look at what it says:
to provide support to mortgage lending and housing markets and to improve overall conditions in private credit markets, the Federal Reserve will purchase a total of up to $1.25 trillion of agency mortgage-backed securities and up to $200 billion of agency debt by the end of the year. In addition, the Federal Reserve will buy up to $300 billion of Treasury securities by autumn.
Hmmmmm. Let's do the math, shall we? $1.45 trillion of agency mortage-backed securities and agency debt. And who are these "agencies," you might ask? Oh, just Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and those sorts of bankrupt governmentally-supported entities. And a mere $0.3 trillion worth of treasuries. They ain't too solid an investment either, but at least there's some tradition there of purchasers.

But all-in-all, I ask the same question I always ask: who the fuck is gonna buy $1.45 trillion worth of shit? In addition to all the shit that's already parked on the Fed's balance sheet? And if your answer is "no one," or "not many folks" or "hell, I dunno," please remember that any un-repurchased shit will remain on the Fed's balance sheet. Which means that $1.45 trillion worth of newly-printed Federal Reserve Notes (those would be the unsecured debt instruments the Fed issues, known to most of us as "Dollars") remain in the general economy.

Which will raise prices somewhere, sometime. Food? Medical care? Rent? Fuel? Take a guess, spin the spinner. But the spinner will stop somewhere.

And let me then ask the other question I often ask? Does anyone in power have a clue what he's doing? If not, how do they keep their jobs? If so, how do they stay out of prison?

More debt, more fiat currency, more lies and double-speak. Yet we're supposed to believe that good times are just around the corner. If only so.

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Anonymous Applesaucer said...

It seems odd that the Fed, Treasury and the Prez chief economic advisor always seem to say:

"we know better than the people who say that the economy is in the tank;


we also know better than the people who say that we shouldn't give trillions to Wall St."

In other words: we're all too stupid to see the "green shoots;" but we're also all to stupid to understand "Systemic Risk."


1:13 PM  
Blogger Weaseldog said...

If you got em, it's time to sell folks.

This hype gave us a tiny rally.

We're cresting the top, put your hands in the air and get ready to scream! This roller coaster is headed down!

4:30 PM  
Blogger DED said...

I keep waiting for the next piece of crappy economic data to come along to send the market to a brand new bottom.

4:22 PM  

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