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The Electronic Printing Press

|Includes: CYB, EUO, FXY, GLD, Invesco DB USD Bear ETF (UDN), UUP
As a society we have been slowly migrating all of our information into electronic form. This has bean realized through books to ebooks, records to wave files, checks to paypal, written letters to email, editorials to blogs. Sometimes I start to miss the physical aspect of things.

One thing that is noticeably absent these days are real live money printing presses. Sure we continually refresh the currency in circulation, but we don't really "print new money" any more. In some ways, I wish we still did as it would be a physical realization of government induced devaluation of our currency (inflation). The media would love this. They could get nice camera shots of a truck of new cash to go along with their stories of inflation.

Sadly, these days all devaluation is done electronically. Furthermore it is done in increasingly complex financial transactions between multiple (quasi)government agencies. While simple ideas underneath, the recent explanations and arrangements announced by the treasury would hardly be recognized as currency devaluation by anyone, at least at first glance.

For instance take the US Treasury's most recent deal with the Federal Reserve; it setup an account "on reserve" at the Fed with $200 billion in cash. Where did it get the cash? It is on loan from the Fed. So, where did the Fed get the money? Well, one of the privileges of the Fed is the ability to grow its balance sheet without raising any capital. It can increase the asset side of its balance sheet without actually issuing any equity. It can do this because it has the legal right to print money.

So, in the case of this $200 billion treasury account, it doesn't seem like inflation because it looks like a temporary measure. This is a simple loan and eventually the treasury will pay it back and the account will go away. However, the Treasury has already raised the amount in the account, and can raise it even further if it needs to. This provides an easy way for the Treasury to take cash out for immediate government spending without having to issue debt via Treasury auctions. This is essentially a very large, "free", and increasing perpetual revolving credit line. This is the Electronic Printing Press.

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Disclosure: Long gold via futures, Short euro via futures (but closing out immediately)