The Federal Reserve’s efforts to ease the credit
crunch risk stoking inflation – and letting reckless, well-paid execs
off the hook.
NEW YORK (Fortune) — The government is showing considerable ingenuity
in devising new tactics to fight the credit crunch. But some observers
fear that the innovations risk making matters worse – by fueling
inflation and insulating executives who made reckless bets from the
full wrath of the market.
David Rosenberg, chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch
(MER, Fortune 500), wrote Wednesday that this week’s Fed action will do
little to counter the impression that Bernanke & Co. is struggling
with problems that the Fed ultimately has little control over.
"This latest experiment, as with the others undertaken thus far, does
not address underlying credit problems, does not materially improve the
solvency of the institutions exposed to assets under stress, does
nothing to put a floor under home prices," Rosenberg wrote in a note to
clients. "We see no reason based on this for anyone to change their
economic or earnings outlook despite the stock market’s initial
reaction to this latest initiative."
"We’re in the helicopter phase now," says Howard Simons, a
strategist at Bianco Research in Chicago. He references the nickname
Helicopter Ben, which Bernanke got tagged with after a 2002 speech on
how central banks can steer away from deflation by dropping money into
Clearly, not everybody is cheering the actions of Ben Bernanke quite
as much as the breathless commentators on CNBC would have you believe.
If you’ve been to one of my seminars you know that Ben Bernanke is
doing precisely what he said he would do when faced with this exact
problem – namely, throw ever increasing quantities of easy/free money
at the problem until either:
- The problem was solved
- The entire system broke
Of course, this made our investing lives very easy as he told us,
unequivocally, that storing our wealth in US dollars was a very bad
idea and was even nice enough to say so in a major position paper that
was publicly distributed.
Here’s the relevant quote [Link to full article]:
Like gold, U.S. dollars have value only to the
extent that they are strictly limited in supply. But the U.S.
government has a technology, called a printing press (or, today, its
electronic equivalent), that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars
as it wishes at essentially no cost. By increasing the number of U.S.
dollars in circulation, or even by credibly threatening to do so, the
U.S. government can also reduce the value of a dollar in terms of goods
and services, which is equivalent to raising the prices in dollars of
those goods and services. We conclude that, under a paper-money system,
a determined government can always generate higher spending and hence
I encourage you to read the full paper as it gives incredible insights
into the probable actions of Ben Bernanke as he fights the implosion of
the largest credit bubble ever in human history.
If someone says they are going to do something and then I see them
doing it, I have a tendency to believe that they are actually doing it.
In this case, it means that Ben Bernanke is pumping lots and lots of
easy money into the banking system and, should that fail, will not
admit defeat but will rather go to the next stage, and the one after
In short, it means that we can expect the dollar to be sacrificed in an
attempt to try and save the banking system. Of course, it’s entirely
possible that Ben will do exactly that, but I have serious enough
doubts about his chances that I have pulled the majority of my wealth
out of the banking system and will simply watch this drama play itself
out without my active participation.
Lastly, please note when you read the article carefully that the big
investment houses are giving very different messages to their primary
clients than they are to the general public.