The Fed soon plans to ‘taper’ its existing policy of QE after its next September 18 meeting. A Summers at the Fed helm will represent no major change from this. The Fed without doubt will taper later this year, but very very slowly. Instead of $85 billion a month in ‘free money’ for banksters, speculators, stock and bond traders, and the very high net worth individuals—i.e. those folks that drive the financial markets globally—the Fed may reduce that to $75 or $65 billion. Big deal. Or the Fed may try to indirectly cut back on the free money spigot by a policy of ‘reverse repos’ (don’t worry, no need to understand that financial legerdemain). But none of that will stop the banksters and company from using the remaining mountain of virtually free cash to speculate in stocks, junk bonds, foreign exchange, and derivatives to keep the ‘global money parade’ going.
The ‘wildcard’ in this monetary policy poker deck, of course, is what’s happening with the emerging markets right now. Just the talk of the Fed tapering has driven bond rates up by nearly 100% in the last few months. The 10 year T-Bond was 1.6% this past spring; it’s now 2.9% and will almost certainly go higher.
That rapid rate shift is now resulting in the trillions of dollars of Fed money injection of the past five years flowing into emerging markets, especially Indonesia, India, Brazil, Turkey and So Africa (now referred to as the ‘BITTS’). Now that mountain of liquidity (money) is flooding back to the US and Europe. That reversed flow—precipitated by the Fed’s upcoming QE policy shift—is resulting in currency collapse in these emerging markets, massive capital flight back to the west, worsening trade deficits, commodities price deflation, coming oil price inflation, and in turn what will prove a significant slowing of these countries’ real economies that will in turn further exacerbate all the above.
In other words, the locus of the global economic crisis is now quickly shifting—from Europe in particular to Asia, emerging markets, especially the BIITS.
This growing instability may result in the Fed moving toward a ‘tapering’ of QE even more carefully and slowly. But it doesn’t matter who’s leading the Fed. Whether Bernanke or Summers, or even someone else, the Fed policy will not change significantly. Again, forget any ‘Summers Effect’. Summers will do as he always has done for the banksters: ensured their interests are protected—whether offshore or in the US.
In conclusion, whomever assumes the role of Fed Chair—Summers, current Fed Vice-Chair, Janet Yellen, or some compromise candidate like Fed governor, Kohl—will have to address a new ‘tail risk’ domestically, as well as globally (e.g. emerging markets crisis).
The domestic tail risk may prove to be a US economy and economic recovery that is highly sensitive to interest rate hikes, already having risen more than 1% since June for mortgages and other loans. US monetary policy makers have experienced nearly five years during which lowering interest rates to record levels has produced very little recovery in the real economy—i.e. housing, jobs, or real investment in the US—even as those record low rates produced a boom and bubble in financial securities investments, in stocks, bonds, derivatives, etc.
It may soon be revealed that the US economy is extremely sensitive to increases in interest rates, just as it has been largely insensitive to reductions in interest rates the past five years. The markets having become addicted to free money and super-low rates for five years may act like junkies without their fix if the Fed goes ‘cold turkey’ on them. If so, and interest rates in the US rise even moderately, then the US economy’s latest tepid rebound will quickly result in yet another ‘relapse’.
But no fear. Summers as chair will then respond appropriately, no different than has Bernanke his predecessor. The Free Money spigot will be re-opened to the max once again by the Fed to protect investors and speculators—and emerging markets be damned. If there is such a thing as a ‘Summers Effect’, it will prove a rehash of the ‘Bernanke Effect’.
Dr. Jack Rasmus
September 6, 2013