Thursday, July 23, 2009

What Ben Bernanke Didn't Tell You In His Editorial

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke wrote a long editorial in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal, appearing the morning of his Capitol Hill testimony, entitled "The Fed's Exit Strategy."

You see, many people, including me, doubt that the Fed can effectively avoid rampant inflation caused by its monumental explosion of the US money supply and guarantees.

Ben patiently attempted to reassure readers by listing the many ways he feels the Fed can rein in much of the liquidity it recently created.

Here's the one thing Ben never mentions in his editorial.

All of the methods he described involve raising interest rates.

Whether it's by paying higher interest rates on bank reserve deposits, selling Treasuries, or any of the other approaches he outlined, they all necessarily involve boosting interest rates.

It's fundamental economics. Money supply down, rates up. Pushing securities into investors' hands via sales pushes those prices down, thus raising effective interest rates.

You know what rising interest rates tend to do?

Yes, that's right. Choke off recoveries and slow economic growth.

Granted, rates are basically at zero for now. But they are at zero with much, much more US obligations outstanding than ever before. To move the needle on these massive obligations, interest rates will have to rise.

Oh, yes. That's right, the rate the US pays on its debt will...have to...rise.....too.

Oh, my. Doesn't that raise our cost of government and the deficit?

You betcha!

Thanks for the tutorial, Ben. Next time, maybe be more honest about the effects trying to shrink the money supply will have on the economy's effective interest rates?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Add in also the effect of the inevitable sotck market rally.

Right now, tens of billions of dollars is sitting in bonds. Eventually the desire for a decent return outweighs fear, and that moeny will come off of the sidelines and back into the market, sending bond prices lower, and raising interst rates.