By Michael Pento
The sad truth is that the primary function of the Fed and Treasury has now become the sustention and expansion of disastrous asset bubbles. This anemic economic recovery has been predicated upon boosting consumption, which is 70% of US GDP. That consumption is, in turn, predicated on borrowing; because we don’t have any real income growth on the part of the consumer. The borrowing has been predicated on government’s ability to build upon the asset bubbles in stocks, bonds and real estate. And the creator of all these bubbles is our central bank, which is the progenitor of this deadly-addictive cycle. The Fed does this by providing ultra-low interest rates and through the massive monetization of government debt.
To prove we have learned nothing from the previous Great Recession, we now have a situation where the FHA will most likely need a $1 billion bailout for the first time in its 79 year history. But why do taxpayers have to bail out the FHA, which provides insurance to lenders such as banks and other financial institutions? The reason is because our government has once again compelled lenders to make loans with next to nothing for a down payment to individuals who could not afford to purchase a home—doesn’t this all sound chillingly familiar? Therefore, we have subjected ourselves to yet another bubble in housing, where home prices are once again rising at double-digit rates and marginal home owners are just a few points higher in interest rates from foreclosure.
It’s not just home prices that are in back in a bubble. Stock prices are also growing at double-digit annual rates. These double-digit gains in stocks are taking place in an environment of little earnings and revenue growth. Meanwhile, Treasury bonds offer only half of their average yields going back over 40 years. So, for the first time in our lives we have three bubbles that exist together -- equities, bonds and real estate. But the real catastrophe this time is that these bubbles will become exponentially larger than previous episodes. Therefore, when they burst the devastation will be many times worse.
Fed has launched QE-to-infinity
For those that once believed the Federal Reserve was soon going to taper its asset purchases, what they fail to understand is that the central bank has devolved into an institution that now exists solely for the perpetual expansion of stock, bond and home prices. This week, Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota stated the central bank must be, “…willing to use any of its congressionally authorized tools to achieve the goal of higher employment, no matter how unconventional those tools might be.” He continued, “Doing whatever it takes will mean keeping a historically unusual amount of monetary stimulus in place -- and possibly providing more stimulus -- even as the medium-term inflation outlook temporarily rises above the Fed’s 2 percent goal and asset prices reach unusually high levels.”
What he is saying is that the central bank of the United States should draw a line in the sand and take the opposite stance of former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, who once stated the Fed will do whatever it takes to crush inflation. In sharp contrast, this Federal Reserve is now saying we will do whatever it takes to create sustainable inflation and asset price bubbles.
The bottom line is that the Fed has now launched QE5, which is in reality QE-to-infinity. This latest round of QE is explicitly for the purpose of permanently capping long-term interest rates.
End the manipulation
Banana Ben Bernanke will soon be succeeded by the Queen of the Counterfeiters, Janet Yellen. There will be no significant winding down of bond purchases as far as the eye can see and the Fed’s balance sheet will be expanding for years to come. And if there were to be any small tapering, it will be inconsequential in nature because the Fed is an avowed addict to asset bubbles in order to bring about this artificial and temporary economic growth.
The free market will eventually trump our government’s desire to constantly push asset prices to an artificially-high and unsustainable level. If investors thought the collapse of home prices was devastating in 2008, just imagine what will occur once real estate, equities and bonds prices collapse concurrently. That is why government needs to end its manipulation of asset prices, interest rates and credit creation now!