The further the country goes in the wrong direction, the more people there are who have a financial interest in staying on the same road.
By Bill Bonner, Chairman, Bonner & Partners:
Over the weekend, we were down in Nashville at the Stansberry Conference Series event, along with Ron Paul, Porter Stansberry, Jim Rickards and others. The question on the table: What’s ahead for the US?
Ron Paul took up the question from a geopolitical angle. He told the crowd that the military-security industry had Congress in its pocket.
As a result, we can expect more borrowing, more spending and more pointless and futile wars. They may be bad for the country and its citizens, says Paul, but they are good for the people who make fighter jets and combat fatigues.
“We’ve been at war in the Middle East for decades,” he said. “We supported Osama bin Laden against the Soviets in Afghanistan… and the result of that was the creation of al-Qaeda.
“Then we supported Saddam Hussein against Iran. Saddam and bin Laden hated each other. But after 9/11 we attacked Saddam, using a bunch of lies to justify it. We sent over military equipment worth hundreds of billions of dollars. This equipment is now in the hands of ISIS – another enemy we created… and a far more dangerous one.”
Ron Paul is such a pure-hearted soul. What was a man like him doing in Congress? It must have been some sort of electoral accident. Good men rarely run for public office. And when they do, it is even rarer for them to win.
Poor Ron is retired from Congress now. And he spends his time trying to “get the word out.” He thinks that if people only realized what was happening they would vote for more responsible leaders and more sensible policies.
Alas, that’s not the way it works. The further the country goes in the wrong direction, the more people there are who have a financial interest in staying on the same road.
We visited Ron in his office on Capitol Hill. He held a breakfast meeting with a small group of congressmen, trying to convince them to vote his way; we don’t remember what was at issue.
It was an uphill battle. Only a few members of Congress attended. And those few worried that their districts would lose money… or that the labor unions wouldn’t like it if they voted no… or that they might not get a plum committee assignment if they bucked their own party leadership. Ron was alone.
Politics favors blowhards, hustlers and shallow opportunists, we concluded. Which makes us wonder how Ron Paul ever got elected to Congress in the first place.
But not only did he get elected… once in Washington, he never sold out. Neither to the right nor the left. He opposed zombies, malingerers and bullies wherever he found them.
Taper on Pause?
Which brings us to the subject of our own presentation to the Nashville crowd. We were following the (QE) money. “St. Louis Fed president James Bullard let the cat out of the bag last week,” we explained.
As Bullard told Bloomberg TV last week:
I also think that inflation expectations are dropping in the US. And that is something that a central bank cannot abide. We have to make sure that inflation and inflation expectations remain near our target.
And for that reason I think a reasonable response of the Fed in this situation would be to invoke the clause on the taper that said that the taper was data dependent. And we could go on pause on the taper at this juncture and wait until we see how the data shakes out into December.
So… continue with QE at a very low level as we have it right now. And then assess our options going forward.
We didn’t think it would happen so fast. We thought the central bank would wait. We expected a little more hypocrisy… a bit more posturing… a little more phony resistance… a few denials…
… the Fed should have played it cool… coy… elusive… hard to pin down, making investors really sweat before coming to the rescue.
We knew where the Fed would end up, but we didn’t know it would go there so quickly and easily!
Bullard is admitting to a staggering act of vanity and hypocrisy. In the land of free minds and free markets, apparently only the Fed knows what prices equities should fetch. Henceforth, it will approve all price movements on Wall Street.
Hooked on Cheap Credit
To bring you fully into the picture, dear reader, the US central bank has the economy, and the markets, hooked on cheap credit and printing-press money. It has been supplying both on a grand scale for the last five years.
But it had promised to stay away from the playground, beginning this month. Now that the economy is recovering, goes the storyline, the Fed will back away from its emergency measures and allow things to return to normal.
QE ends this month. Higher interest rates are expected next year.
No bubble has ever been created that didn’t have a pin looking for it. And nobody likes it when the two meet up.
Last week, it looked as though the Fed’s bubble and Mr. Market’s pin were coming closer. Then quick action by Bullard helped push them apart on Friday.
QE began in November 2008. And zero interest rates began a month later. This has perverted prices for stocks, bonds, houses… and just about every other asset price on the planet. Stocks are worth more than twice what they were at the bottom of the crisis. The average house is worth $60,000 more.
Now QE is ending. And that means a lot less money gushing into financial markets.
Instead of increasing at a 40% rate as it did in 2012, what Richard Duncan calls “excess liquidity” – the difference between what the Fed pumps out via QE and what the government absorbs via borrowing – will go up only 6% this year.
Next year, there will be even less.
With less new money coming from the Fed… and still no real recovery… something’s gotta give. No matter what Fed officials say. And since stocks periodically go down anyway, this seems like as good a time as any. By Bill Bonner, Chairman, Bonner & Partners
Never before in the long, comic history of mankind and its money have central bankers taken such a keen interest in asset prices. Now they create money, out of nowhere, for the express purpose of pushing them up. Read… Roll Out the Fire Hoses (Here Comes QE4)
Enjoy reading WOLF STREET and want to support it? Using ad blockers – I totally get why – but want to support the site? You can donate “beer money.” I appreciate it immensely. Click on the beer mug to find out how:
Would you like to be notified via email when WOLF STREET publishes a new article? Sign up here.