Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"QE3 Has Already Started"

Most analysts have missed the fact that QE3 has already started in earnest. Of course, it would have been easy to miss. Ben Bernanke has not made any grand pronouncements. He hasn’t done some public thinking out loud, as he did among friends at Jackson Hole, Wyoming last August. It is not even called “QE3”. Think of it as a “stealth QE3”. But make no mistake. A new variety of quantitative easing has already begun in a big way, and is generating its desired effect.

The new QE3 is the “RISK OFF” trade. QE2 ended up pouring $600 billion into stocks, commodities, oil, gold, and silver. Since April 29, the prospect of slowing economic growth has prompted this hot money to take flight and bail from these assets classes. Think of it as the same $600 billion stampeding into risky markets, doing a 180, and then stampeding right back out against.

Where is all this money going? Into the Treasury bond market. We have in fact been in new bull market for bonds since February, taking the yield on the ten year Treasury down from 4.10% to 3.10%. If the current “RISK OFF” trade continues, or even accelerates, we could see ten year yields down to 2.0%-2.5% by the end of the summer.

In the ultimate irony, we might even see bonds peak and risk assets bottom on June 30, the day QE2 ends. Given the way that events compress and accelerate these days, I would not be surprised to see things unfold this way. This is why I have been selling short puts on the long bond ETF (TLT), and avoiding bearish bets on bonds, like the plague, such as the (TBT). It is also why I have been piling on shorts in oil and stock at every opportunity.

There is no doubt that this is Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s plan, and they have voiced as much to Washington confidents in recent weeks. The beauty of this plan is that it has no government fingerprints on it. They are getting private investors to do the heavy lifting for them. That will make them immune from attacks from anti-interventionists, like the Tea Party, and anti-Federal Reservists, like Ron Paul. Bernanke can just sit back and let natural market forces do his handiwork for him.

Clever Ben, clever. (read more)