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4 Reasons Why QE3 From Bernanke Would Wreck the Economy

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New article for PolicyMic.

Now that the convention circuses are finally over, the highly  anticipated August jobs report was released yesterday with less than  optimistic numbers. According to the Labor Department, nonfarm payrolls increased by only 96,000 in August, significantly  lower than the 140,000 needed to put any dent in the unemployment rate.

These sluggish employment numbers were seized upon by Governor Romney and the Republicans to attack the president, but even more predictably, have been used to justify calls for more action by the Federal Reserve  to help stimulate the economy. "The economy is crawling up the down  escalator and today's report can only give ammunition to the activist  members of the Fed board to loosen monetary policy further next week,"  said Patrick O'Keefe, head of economic research at J.H. Cohn in Roseland, New Jersey.

In other words, QE3. Especially in the midst of election season, a  short-term boom from a Fed "monetary injection" is politically tempting  and very likely as the economy continues to struggle. But another round  of quantitative easing is the last thing that is needed for economic  recovery and growth, and here are four consequences that would result  from QE3.

1. Further Devaluation of the Dollar:First off, what the Federal Reserve calls quantitative easing is just  newspeak for money printing. Whenever the Fed or mainstream economists  talk about "pumping money into the economy" or urging the Fed to "do  something," the Fed increases the amount of money and credit into  circulation without the equivalent capital or economic production to  back it up, decreasing the value of every dollar that is currently in  the economy.

This devalues the purchasing power of the dollar as more of them now  chase and compete for goods and services. Since 1971, when President  Nixon essentially defaulted on the obligations owed by the U.S.  government and cut all gold ties from the dollar, the value of the dollar has plummeted. Because of this, ordinary Americans have had to work harder and harder  as wages stagnate and dollars begin to buy less and less. Savers too,  like the elderly and those on fixed incomes, are hurt by the Fed's  printing of money, as the interest earned is nowhere near the rise in  prices that predictably occur from inflation. Given that QE and QE2 have already flooded the economy with trillions of new and artificial money, QE3 would only make things worse.

2. Masks Our Fiscal Problems:Money printing allows governments to conceal the true cost and reality of  their financial obligations. Without a central bank to create the money  needed for governments to limp along, interest rates would rise and send the correct signals to the economy.

But governments find it much easier and politically feasible to hide  the costs of debt and deficits by inflating the money supply rather than cut back and/or increase direct taxation on the public. This is how,  say, President Bush was able to cut taxes and send out stimulus checks  while simultaneously spending trillions of dollars on multiple wars in  the Middle East. Rising prices and a devalued dollar are much harder to  understand and notice than a higher tax bill.

The U.S. government has a $16 trillion debt and faces,  conservatively, $60 trillion worth of financial obligations. That's more than half a million dollars per household. The math is truly  astonishing. Rather than face up to this reality, QE3 would allow  politicians to continue masking the truth, at least until the next  election.

6837816953_71b072db84_z Ben Bernanke: propping up a zombie economic system and destroying the dollar.

3. Wall Street Will Do Just Fine:What is always interesting to note is that the Dow Jones and Nasdaq seem to  do quite well, or at least not take a sharp dip, whenever the Fed  creates money and injects into the economy. Even with the disappointing  jobs numbers, Wall Street still did fine. This is generally seen as a  sign that things are okay and recovery is really just around the corner, no need to panic.

But this couldn't be further from the truth. It should be fairly easy to see why Wall Street does fine with cheap credit and monetary  stimulus. Not only are big banks and large corporations the first ones  to use the new money and are thus largely shielded by the inflationary  effects, Wall Street just happens to be where a huge majority of the bad debt and worthless paper that has been accumulated in the last decade  resides. Of course they're going to be happy when these assets, securities, and bonds are propped up and the cost dumped on the taxpayer.

Historically, central banking tends to create a situation where wealth is funneled upward and centralized into fewer and fewer hands. This is why the middle class is shrinking, and more of this in the form of QE3 will only further this  process along.

4. Further Delays Economic Recovery:A healthy recession is a process in which debt is liquidated,  malinvestment is corrected, and the economy restructures to begin  producing again. But Fed policy delays this process tremendously,  thereby making the necessary and inevitable correction that much harder.

For the last decade at least, we have relied on overly low interest  rates, borrowing, and consumer spending to drive the economy. Further QE allows this unhealthy process to continue and makes market corrections  that much more difficult. Any increases in GDP or employment gains that  may result actually compounds the problem since they are a result not of genuine economic growth but bubbles and artificial credit.

Unfortunately, QE3 will probably happen as a result of political  expediency and the fact that all a central bank knows how to do is print money and create bubbles. And when QE3 creates even more of a mess,  QE4, 5, 6, ad infinitum will be their only answers.

The real answer to economic recovery and growth is to stop printing and borrowing money,  liquidate the debt, free up markets and prices, and have interest rates  and a money supply that are a reflection of capital, savings, and  production, not political whim. That pill will indeed be hard to  swallow, but the more time it takes for this correction to come, the  more difficult it will be.

Entry #70

Comments

1.
Comment by bobbya - September 13, 2012, 9:58 am
The Real Answer to Economic Recovery AND Growth IS to print MORE money AND spend More too!
What brought America out of the Republican Great Depression One AND ALL of their other Recessions was spending MORE money,NOT Less.Like FDR did with WW2 and Public Works Projects and Reagan-Bush One Did by raising taxes to spend more and Grow Government.

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