Another Wave of Fed Inflationism

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With cricket season winding down, we thought it apt to bring in some sledging to today’s Daily Reckoning. Our target, as he walks back to the pavilion, is (former) US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Mind you, it won’t be as witty as some of the classic sledges. Our personal favourite is Ian Botham’s retort to Rodney March during an Ashes series. Marsh apparently said to Botham as he came out to bat, ‘How’s your wife and my kids?‘ Botham replied, ‘The missus is fine, the kids are retarded.

Nice one Beefy…

Bernanke richly deserves a ‘send-off’. That’s because the conventional view is that he saved the world from another Great Depression. Sure he did…after he caused it in the first place. Of course, Alan Greenspan laid much of the early groundwork for the big bust in 2008, but Bernanke was a worthy successor.

Both men followed a doctrine of inflationism. That is, easy money is the cure for the problems caused by easy money. But due to their intellectual dishonesty, they never saw themselves as part of the problem. They were always the heroes that needed to ‘do something’ to improve the world. And look where it’s got us…

With new inflationista Janet Yellen now at the helm, the Greenspan/Bernanke doctrine is firmly entrenched at the Federal Reserve. The tough and austere tenure of Paul Volcker, who was Chairman before Greenspan took over, is long forgotten. To stretch the cricket metaphor, Bernanke was a world class ‘first drop’, and Yellen will make a very good number four.

It’s why we’re convinced more stimulus is on its way this year. And when it arrives it will put a rocket under gold and commodity prices.

It’s peculiar then that the final Fed meeting that Bernanke presided over last week made no mention of the big problems starting to surface in the emerging markets…problems ultimately caused by the Fed’s years of ultra-easy money.  

Do they think that it’s not their issue to deal with? Maybe, but India’s central bank boss, Raghuram Rajan, doesn’t think so. As one of the biggest emerging markets, India is suffering the effects of capital outflows and had to raise interest rates last week to support its currency, the rupee. He blames the Fed and gave Bernanke a covert send off last week. From Bloomberg:

"International monetary cooperation has broken down," Rajan, 50, said yesterday in an interview in Mumbai with Bloomberg TV India, noting how emerging markets helped pull the global economy out of crisis starting in late 2008. "Industrial countries have to play a part in restoring that, and they can’t at this point wash their hands off and say we’ll do what we need to and you do the adjustment."

"The U.S. should worry about the effects of its polices on the rest of the world," Rajan told a group of students in Mumbai today in response to a question on how Indian policies affect other countries. "We would like to live in a world where countries take into account the effect of their policies on other countries and do what is right, broadly, rather than what is just right given the circumstances of that country."

While Rajan might have a point, he’s just a typical central banker whinging when things aren’t working out. It was Bernanke’s easy money starting in 2008 that led to capital flowing into emerging markets, including India’s. This pushed down interest rates and led to booming conditions. It’s what helped emerging markets ‘pull the global economy out of crisis’.

Now that the money is starting to flow the other way, Rajan doesn’t like it. Well, bad luck! We live in a globalised, US dollar-centric world. Emerging markets are highly dependent on US dollar based capital flows. They’re locked into the dollar via trade and the financial system.

This is what gives the US its great economic power. Ultimately, the ability to issue debts in your own currency and to have those debts considered a highly valuable asset by smaller economies is economic nirvana…for the US.

And it’s what allows the Fed to follow its perpetual policy of inflationism. Whenever there’s a problem in the US economy, just issue more debt…someone will take it…they need quality assets! But at the first sign of tightening, no matter how small, prices change at the margin. And the emerging markets are on the margin of the global economy, which is why you’re seeing problems there first.

This is why we think the world is only a quarter or two away from another bout of inflationism. That’s how long it will probably take for the Fed’s ever tighter monetary policy to hit the US economy. When the signs do emerge, expect Janet Yellen to make her mark…to inflict her own brand of inflationism onto the world economy.

But it will differ from past efforts. It won’t be another round of QE. It will be something that seeks to get money into the real economy…not just financial markets. When it happens, or even before it happens, you’ll start to see gold and commodity prices pick up. Not because the global economy is improving, but because capital will shift into these beaten down markets to profit from another wave of Fed inflationism.

We make the argument here that 2014 will be the year when the Fed gets serious about trying to create goods and services inflation, as opposed to asset price inflation, which they are already very adept at. We don’t know if they will be successful, but we’re confident they’ll give it a crack. That’s because the philosophy of inflationism says that once you start you can’t stop.

You can try to stop, but it will only bring about asset price deflation and deleveraging…which is what the Fed and central banks want to avoid at all costs. So we’ll go through another round of experimentation…another round of pushing the button and hoping it all works out.

2014 will also be the year when the Fed starts to lose control. People will begin to see that the Fed hasn’t a clue what they’re doing. They’re slogging 20/20 style in a five day Test Match. And if they keep it up, they’ll all be out…

Like Bernanke, walking back to his Princeton Pavilion. Well, good riddance, Bernanke…you’ve done enough damage. Take your bat, ball and your failed doctrine with you…

Regards,

Greg Canavan+
for The Daily Reckoning Australia

Join The Daily Reckoning on Google+

Greg Canavan
Greg Canavan is the Managing Editor of The Daily Reckoning and is the foremost authority for retail investors on value investing in Australia. He is a former head of Australasian Research for an Australian asset-management group and has been a regular guest on CNBC, Sky Business’s The Perrett Report and Lateline Business. Greg is also the editor of Crisis & Opportunity, an investment publication designed to help investors profit from companies and stocks that are undervalued on the market. To follow Greg's financial world view more closely you can subscribe to The Daily Reckoning for free here. If you’re already a Daily Reckoning subscriber, then we recommend you also join him on Google+. It's where he shares investment research, commentary and ideas that he can't always fit into his regular Daily Reckoning emails. For more on Greg go here.
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8 Comments on "Another Wave of Fed Inflationism"

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Lachlan
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Greg I see a correlation with gold and monetary inflation in the secular sense but in short terms you cannot be sure which prices are going to rise or fall. Look at the last two years of consistent monetising …and yet gold was sold way down from it’s highs, at least in the paper sense. Authorities use these stimulus/can kicking periods to transform and readjust the constructs of financial control. There will be a new monetary paradigm soon now…singing it’s siren song to the hungry and the poor. Gold might sparkle brighter than it has of late and maybe gold… Read more »
Lachlan
Guest
Greg I see a correlation with gold and monetary inflation in the secular sense but in short terms you cannot be sure which prices are going to rise or fall. Look at the last two years of consistent monetising …and yet gold was sold way down from it’s highs, at least in the paper sense. Authorities use these stimulus/can kicking periods to transform and readjust the constructs of financial control. There will be a new monetary paradigm soon now…singing it’s siren song to the hungry and the poor. Gold might sparkle brighter than it has of late and maybe gold… Read more »
slewie the pi-rat
Guest
Rajan seems to me to be just another NWO wealth-transfer mechanism, a very highly-trained IMF agent… …more the norm than the exception, at this point, if you follow me… if one were to look at the FED in this light, one might see its strengths more clearly… any CB, really… the Aussie PMI has printed: 0.9 drop to 46.7; third monthly decline in a row. China Services PMI printed: record low, also a whopping 3-month decline. PERHAPS the FED is not opposed to orderly deflation, just disorderly [out of FED control] deflation. in other words, the markets CAN go down… Read more »
slewie the pi-rat
Guest
Rajan seems to me to be just another NWO wealth-transfer mechanism, a very highly-trained IMF agent… …more the norm than the exception, at this point, if you follow me… if one were to look at the FED in this light, one might see its strengths more clearly… any CB, really… the Aussie PMI has printed: 0.9 drop to 46.7; third monthly decline in a row. China Services PMI printed: record low, also a whopping 3-month decline. PERHAPS the FED is not opposed to orderly deflation, just disorderly [out of FED control] deflation. in other words, the markets CAN go down… Read more »
slewie the pi-rat
Guest

US mfg. PMI has printed: biggest miss from ‘expectations’ on record!
so there! L0L!!!
still above 50, tho! [51.3, down from 56.5]

and, …another nice, ORDERLY down day…

also: today we have Dammit Janet’s first POMO.
will she wear white?
btw, she has asked me to remind everyone:
tapering is NOT tightening, dammit!

slewie the pi-rat
Guest

US mfg. PMI has printed: biggest miss from ‘expectations’ on record!
so there! L0L!!!
still above 50, tho! [51.3, down from 56.5]

and, …another nice, ORDERLY down day…

also: today we have Dammit Janet’s first POMO.
will she wear white?
btw, she has asked me to remind everyone:
tapering is NOT tightening, dammit!

Lachlan
Guest

Yep no disorderly deflation…just keep the economic disaster charades in motion then these jokers will control everything…deflate your competitors and inflate your mates, ha ha…command economics western style.

Lachlan
Guest

Yep no disorderly deflation…just keep the economic disaster charades in motion then these jokers will control everything…deflate your competitors and inflate your mates, ha ha…command economics western style.

wpDiscuz
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