As Germany loses battle for ECB, QE goes global

Mario Draghi, ECB (photo by IMF/Stephen Jaffe)

What is Super Mario up to? First, he gave an unexpectedly dovish speech at the Jackson Hole conference, rather ungallantly upstaging the host, Ms Yellen, who was widely anticipated to be the most noteworthy speaker at the gathering (talking about the labor market, her favorite subject). Having thus single-handedly and without apparent provocation raised expectations for more “stimulus” at last week’s ECB meeting, he then even exceeded those expectations with another round of rate-cuts and confirmation of QE in form of … [Read more...]

Our obsession with monetary stimulus will end in disaster

money symbols getting sucked into a vortex

The following is a commentary I wrote for The Forum section of London business-paper City A.M. It was published yesterday. The link is here. It is now six years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and considering that the US economy has officially been in recovery for the past five years, that equity indexes have put in new all-time highs, and that credit markets are once again ebullient to the point of carelessness, it is worth contemplating that monetary policy remains stuck in pedal-to-the-floor stimulus mode. … [Read more...]

QE will come to the eurozone – and, like elsewhere, it will be a failure

Eurotower In Frankfurt

The data was not really surprising and neither was the response from the commentariat. After a run of weak reports from Germany over recent months, last week’s release of GDP data for the eurozone confirmed that the economy had been flatlining in the second quarter. Predictably, this led to new calls for ECB action. “Europe now needs full-blown QE” diagnosed the leader writer of the Financial Times, and in its main report on page one the paper quoted Richard Barwell, European economist at Royal Bank of Scotland with “It’s … [Read more...]

ECB decision: Unnecessary, ineffective but further entrenching bad habits

Euro banknotes

After months of whinging and whining by the international commentariat, and of relentlessly redefining what any sensible person would call “price stability” as a grave economic problem, the ECB has caved in, as expected, and yesterday announced further stimulus measures. Unnecessary I have pointed out repeatedly that low inflation is not a problem, and that the slow growth in money and credit that is presently its cause, is understandable and not entirely unhealthy. In many parts of the eurozone households, … [Read more...]

ECB under pressure to abandon superior policy stance

Balls of euro banknotes

The European Central Bank is under pressure. Inflation in the eurozone is at 0.7 percent but as Ben Bernanke supposedly stated, we are never sure if we measure these things correctly. So by all we know, the eurozone may already be in mild deflation. This should come as no surprise. The eurozone has practically had zero money growth and zero growth in lending for some time. As reported today, growth in the M3 money aggregate fell to a snail’s pace of 0.8 percent year-over-year in April. Loans to the private sector are 1.8 … [Read more...]

Keynesian madness: central banks waging war on price stability, savers

Eurotower In Frankfurt

There is apparently a new economic danger out there. It is called “very low inflation” and the eurozone is evidently at great risk of succumbing to this menace. “A long period of low inflation – or outright deflation, when prices fall persistently – alarms central bankers”, explains The Wall Street Journal, “because it [low inflation, DS] can cripple growth and make it harder for governments, businesses and consumers to service their debts.” Official inflation readings at the ECB are at 0.7 percent, still positive so no … [Read more...]

No end to central bank meddling as ECB embraces ‘quantitative easing’, faulty logic

Mario Draghi, ECB (photo by IMF/Stephen Jaffe)

“Who can print money, will print money” is how my friend Patrick Barron put it succinctly the other day. This adage is worth remembering particularly for those periods when central bankers occasionally take the foot off the gas, either because they genuinely believe they solved the problem, or because they want to make a show of appearing careful and measured. The US Federal Reserve is a case in point. Last year the Fed announced that it was beginning to ‘taper’, that is, carefully reduce its debt monetization program … [Read more...]

Janet Yellen’s game of Jenga

Jenga tower

Janet Yellen has a plan. The plan is to exit the ultra-loose policy of the Federal Reserve, and to do so very slowly and very carefully. And by slowly I mean very slowly. 2013, the last year of the Bernanke reign and the sixth year post subprime, was the central bank’s most generous if measured by level of interest rates and the expansion of the girth of its balance sheet: Fed Funds remained at 0.25 percent throughout the year, and through quantitative easing the monetary base grew by another $1,000 billion. Such largesse … [Read more...]

Forward Guidance? – Nonsense! Central bankers have no choice.

"Pioneer of guidance" Mark Carney

After two decades of serial bubble-blowing, the world’s central bankers have maneuvered themselves into a corner. They created a monster in the form of an unbalanced global economy and a bloated financial system, laden with debt, addicted to cheap money, and in need of constantly rising asset prices. Now the monster is in charge and the central bankers dare not stop feeding it. The US Fed did, of course, make some noises to the effect that the flow of cheap money may at some point slow and then even stop. How credible these … [Read more...]

End of QE? – I don’t buy it.

Ben Bernanke

A new meme is spreading in financial markets: The Fed is about to turn off the monetary spigot. US Printmaster General Ben Bernanke announced that he might start reducing the monthly debt monetization program, called ‘quantitative easing’ (QE), as early as the autumn of 2013, and maybe stop it entirely by the middle of next year. He reassured markets that the Fed would keep the key policy rate (the Fed Funds rate) at near zero all the way into 2015. Still, the end of QE is seen as the beginning of the end of super-easy … [Read more...]