Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Turd Ferguson: ''Direct Debt Monetization"



OK, so it has been a few days since QE to infinity became official Fed policy. There is certainly an abundance of swirling news and discussion out there that dances around the real significance. Today, we cut to the chase.

Let's go back and hit on the main FED points:

The Fed will keep rates "extraordinarily low" through 2015
The Fed will continue $45B/month in Operation Twist through year end
The Fed will begin buying $40B/month in mortgage-backed securities (MBS) with no end date or target purchase amount given
So many of us have been seemingly immunized against the jolting effect of these headlines. Not just here at TFMR but nearly everywhere that "awakened" citizens congregate on the internet. We take the headlines at face-value but rarely stop to consider things on the next level. But we need to go there today because without a full understanding of what the true meaning and implications are, you're likely to delay actions that you should be immediately taking.

So, let's go back to the three bullet points above and take them, one-by-one. First,

The Fed will keep rates "extraordinarily low" through 2015
What is The Fed telling you here? Well, a couple of things. First of all, 2015?? That's three freaking years from now! It's one thing to say that rates will stay low for the next 6-12 months. It's something entirely different to say three freaking years! The negative implications of this are dramatic as institutions such as pension funds and insurance companies will be ravaged by the continuance of ZIRP. Additionally, however, what is The Fed telling you about their expectations of economic "recovery"? Despite all of their official forecasts of growth and jobs, it sure doesn't seem that they believe it. Like the old adage says: Watch what they do, not what they say. We talk here incessantly about the miserable economy and the dim prospects for recovery. It is now clear that The Fed feels this way, too.

The Fed will continue $45B/month in Operation Twist through year end
First of all, remember what Operation Twist is. The Fed is selling their short-term maturity holdings (where there is actual demand for "safe havens") and using the proceeds to purchase longer-term notes and bonds. This process is considered "sterilized" because, allegedly, The Fed isn't creating any new money. They are simply "re-positioning" some of their "assets". Whatever. I don't care to get sidetracked as to whether or not this is really a "sterile" process. All that matters is that The Fed is currently executing this strategy to the tune of about $45B/month. The problem for them is, they're almost out of short-term bills and notes to sell and, once this inventory of paper is depleted, the $45B/month is going to have to come from other, "non-sterile" sources. Read More