Quantitative Easing Explained

Is the Federal Reserve Destroying the Dollar?


It is hard to accept that the head of the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank, or any other Federal Reserve Bank president, or Ben Bernanke, the head of the whole system, believes that by driving long-term interest rates lower than they already are (thirty-year U.S. Treasury Note near 4%), one can convince anyone, much less one half of Americans who did not go broke, to want to borrow enough money to accelerate this economy. It is a preposterous concept.

The most probable outcome will be to ignite inflation. The U.S. dollar is the top reserve currency in the world primarily because of its reliability for maintaining its value. When the Fed, the fiduciary custodian of the world's current top reserve currency, tells all the holders of the dollar that they are going to deliberately depreciate it at 2% to 4% a year, a whole lot of people are going to be listening very closely. It is a little like yelling "fire" in a movie theatre. You want to be first to get out of the door.

If you are holding a ten-year U.S. Treasury Note yielding 2% and the Fed assures you that inflation is going to increase by 2%, you have a potential problem. Any prospective buyer of your Treasury will want to make at least 4% to compensate him for the new inflation. Thus, he will not want to pay you as much for your ten-year U.S. Treasury Note as you paid for it. When you paid $1,000 for your ten-year U.S. Treasury Note, you got it with a 2% interest payment. Because your new buyer requires at least a 4% interest payment, he will pay you only $833 for your $1,000 bond. You will lose $167, or 16.7% on the transaction. If inflation increases by 4%, your bond will be worth only $696, and your loss will be $304, or 30.4%.

But the Fed cannot control everybody's reaction to their hoped-for 2% increase in inflation. What they are expecting to do is very imprecise. People's expectations about inflation may run ahead of actual inflation, with the result being that inflation becomes self-propelling. Commodities' futures go up immediately to anticipate future inflation. These future prices drive up current costs of raw materials, retailers pass it along quickly, and employees want wage increases, and thus, the dollar declines in value.

Comment: I'm trying to stay hopeful but I'm skeptical about the Fed's moves

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