Can The ECB Learn From Its Own Mistakes?

Lior Alkalay - INO.com Contributor - Forex


This week, investors believe that they may have finally gotten the green light for ECB easing. With Eurozone inflation officially turning to deflation, investors believe that Mario Draghi and the ECB have been backed up into a corner with no escape, thus they will be forced to initiate a Quantitative Easing program that will balloon its balance sheet. In fact, the buildup towards this move started a few months back with Mario Draghi sending ever clearer signals of the ECB’s intent toward a full blown QE that will probably involve purchases of government bonds in a Federal Reserve-like manner.

If you will recall, Mario Draghi had also outlined the ECB’s intent to balloon its balance sheet back to its 2012 record of roughly €3.1 trillion. With the ECB’s current balance sheet at €2.216 trillion that means an estimated €884 billion in additional liquidity coming to the markets. As would be expected, the Euro has been in utter meltdown over the past few months, sliding to a low not seen in more than 9 years; of course, all this comes on the back of the impending liquidity injection and especially now as deflationary fears were confirmed with the Eurozone’s CPI at -0.2%. So far, this is par for the course, yet for me, this dredges up old memories of 2012.

The Big Mistake

Just by stating the obvious, that the ECB has to increase its balance sheet by a jaw-dropping €884 billion in order to increase its balance to the size it was a little more than two years ago, shows just how big a mistake the ECB has made in its policy since then. Across the “pond,” the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet has been growing since 2012 and its size has only now stabilized, as the US enjoys above-trend growth, a hair’s breadth of full employment and core inflation at a decent 1.7%. In the meanwhile, as the ECB was aggressively shrinking its own balance sheet, Eurozone growth came to a virtual standstill, unemployment remained stubbornly high, exports slowed, manufacturing weakened and, of course, the Eurozone moved into deflation. Continue reading "Can The ECB Learn From Its Own Mistakes?"

POLL: "I'm Sorry America" - Andrew Huszar

Former Federal Reserve official, Andrew Huszar, has been making the rounds this week apologizing to America for his part in QE. See his article on WSJ.com here. Below is his opening statement.

"I can only say: I'm sorry, America. As a former Federal Reserve official, I was responsible for executing the centerpiece program of the Fed's first plunge into the bond-buying experiment known as quantitative easing. The central bank continues to spin QE as a tool for helping Main Street. But I've come to recognize the program for what it really is: the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time."

I found the article both interesting and scary and it made me think...

Did The Federal Reserve Do The Right Thing?

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Jeremy Lutz

The Federal Reserve Relies on a Flawed Economic Model

By Lacy H. Hunt, Ph.D., Economist

In May 22 testimony to the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke issued another of many similar positive interpretations of central bank policy. Yet again, he continued to argue that quantitative easing has decreased long-term interest rates and produced other benefits. He called economic growth "moderate," a term that he has often used without acknowledging that the Fed's forecasts have repeatedly been far above the mark. Within less than two months—or by the time of the July FOMC meeting—the Fed had downgraded the economic growth to "modest," tacitly acknowledging that program of open-ended $85 billion purchases of government and federal agency security purchases had failed to boost economic activity.

The Fed's polices have not produced the much-promised re-acceleration in economic growth. In the first half of 2013 as well as the latest four quarters, the real GDP growth rate was a paltry 1.4%, even less than the 1.9% growth in the 13.5 years of this century, and less than two-fifths  of the 3.8% GDP growth rate since 1790. Only growth in the 1930s was less than in the 2000s, a time when Dr. Bernanke played a major, if not dominant, role in monetary policy decisions. Continue reading "The Federal Reserve Relies on a Flawed Economic Model"

3 Investments For When The Gold Sell-Off Ends

By: David Sterman of Street Authority

As 2012 came to a close, investors increasingly questioned the wisdom of owning gold or gold-related stocks and funds. After all, a commodity known as an inflation hedge is of dubious value when inflation is nonexistent. And for investors who still expected the Federal Reserve's aggressive stimulus efforts to eventually fuel inflation, patience was starting to wear thin.

What began as a steady exodus out of gold in the winter morphed into something a lot more dramatic this spring. In the past few months, gold has endured a pair of scary plunges that has pushed even its most ardent supporters to the sidelines. Gold prices now sit at their lowest levels in nearly three years. Continue reading "3 Investments For When The Gold Sell-Off Ends"

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Physical Gold and Paper Gold Battling for Supremacy

The Gold Report: In your latest newsletter, you advocate that gold investors pay close attention to the Federal Reserve meeting taking place on June 18. What are you looking for out of that meeting?

Brien Lundin: The main driver for gold right now is quantitative easing (QE). An investor trying to figure out where the gold market is heading in the near to intermediate term needs to focus on QE. Investors should look for clues to the future prospects of the Fed's QE programthat's what's going to drive gold in the short and intermediate term. The question really is: To QE or not to QE? The next Fed meeting will be a prime indicator of that, and the one after that and the one after that.

My general view is that the reports of a resurgent U.S. economy are way ahead of themselves and some data points are indicating that the recovery is not that robust and may even be in danger. The jobs numbers will shed some light on this. If such a scenario develops, then the snap back for gold would be pretty dramatic. A weakening U.S. economy would be bullish for gold because it's bullish for continued QE, and that's the real factor for gold going forward.

TGR: Besides the jobs numbers and the Fed meeting minutes, what indicators are you watching to get some insight into whether the economy really is improving? Continue reading "Physical Gold and Paper Gold Battling for Supremacy"

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