Could the S in USA be changing from ’states’ to ’socialist?’ Maybe that is overly aggressive, but why do I ask?
If the markets are an indication of an incipient rebound in economic health, then why would certain Federal Reserve governors want to increase the Fed’s quantitative easing program? Is that accurate? Is the Fed actually looking to inject even more capital and liquidity into our housing market over and above the $1.25 trillion commitment they have already made? Recall that the Fed informed the markets that it would extend the current purchase program of MBS (mortgage-backed securities) until the end of the 1st quarter 2010. Also recall that there had been an increase in Fed-speak by certain Fed representatives (Kevin Warsh, Thomas Hoenig) about the need for an increase in rates ’sooner rather than later,’ along with the need for a defined exit plan by the Fed from its massive injection of liquidity into the markets. ‘
Well, take those comments with a large grain of salt. Why? Today we learn that there are ‘doves‘ within the Fed who believe the Fed should commit even more money to support our housing market. Bloomberg provides insights on this topic by writing, Fed Says Some Officials Were Open to Buying More MBS,
Some Federal Reserve policy makers were open last month to boosting the central bank’s $1.25 trillion mortgage-backed securities purchase program to stimulate the economy amid concerns the recovery may fade.
“Some members thought that an increase in the maximum amount of the committee’s purchases of agency MBS could help to reduce economic slack more quickly,” according to minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee’s Sept. 22-23 meeting released today in Washington. One member said the improvement in the outlook could warrant a reduction in purchases, the minutes said, without identifying the policy maker.
Having read and reviewed more Fed statements than I care to remember, each and every word in a Fed statement is very carefully chosen. Why? The Fed is attempting to manage market expectations. The fact that the Fed chose to release these comments about mortgage purchases is an indication that the Fed will not only keep the liquidity spigot on for an ‘extended’ period but also may increase the flow of liquidity into the economy via increased purchases of mortgage securities. What does that mean? They view the economy as still having real weakness, especially in housing. What does that mean? Little concern of inflation in general and likely deflationary pressures within housing.
To fight the deflationary pressures, the Fed will continue to pump liquidity. Are there any costs to this increased liquidity? The equity markets are rallying so it must be good. Well, not so fast. Actually, the costs are in the form of ongoing weakness in the dollar. The U.S. Dollar Index moved lower by another .65% today.
When you truly look at the economy and the markets, think of things in terms of purchasing power. The dollar is now down approximately 7% on the year. Discount that from asset returns and incorporate that into the cost of products.
Those dollar weighted returns and dollar weighted costs in the context of a global market and global economy are truly the proper perspective to navigate the economic landscape.