The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee today said it will keep trying to print money until the economy recovers. In short, the Fed said it will increase its purchases of mortgage-backed securities by $40 billion a month until employment improves. So, indefinitely. Combined with other maneuvers, the Fed said its asset holdings will increase by about $85 billion a month through the end of this year. And the money-printing may not end there; from the Fed’s statement:
The Committee will closely monitor incoming information on economic and financial developments in coming months. If the outlook for the labor market does not improve substantially, the Committee will continue its purchases of agency mortgage-backed securities, undertake additional asset purchases, and employ its other policy tools as appropriate until such improvement is achieved in a context of price stability. In determining the size, pace, and composition of its asset purchases, the Committee will, as always, take appropriate account of the likely efficacy and costs of such purchases. (emphasis added)
This is not what people mean when they talk about “wealth creation.” In fact, it’s very nearly the opposite of that: The inevitable devaluing of the dollar — the prices of gold, silver and several other commodities spiked in the minutes following the Fed’s 12:30 announcement — means our savings will lose value. This is the destruction of future wealth in the hopes of creating some current economic growth. In that respect, it is no different from increasing the budget deficit even further to fund even more Keynesian spending.
Will it work? Ask Japan; they’ve been trying such “quantitative easing” since 2001, without much positive effect. This is our third round of it in the past four years.
The Fed already had said it would keep short-term interest rates at or near zero until 2014. Today, it said that policy was likely to remain in place until mid-2015, which is three years from now and six years after the nominal end of the Great Recession. The new bond-buying comes on top of that.
Folks, this is what pushing the panic button looks like. It’s unclear what, if anything, comes between the panic button and the white flag.
– By Kyle Wingfield