Busted: Bankers and The Global Economy

June 1, 2009

Fed Puzzled by Stats: Are We In Danger?

fed battle economic gloomAll interest rates are not equal when it comes to any given investment product. The rates on bonds of different maturities behave independently of each other. Short-term rates vs. long-term rates can move in opposite directions simultaneously. The gods of finance say that what is important is the overall pattern of interest-rate movement: a direct reflection of the future of the economy and Wall Street confidence.

The Fed is not certain what is driving the sharp rise in long-dated bond yields and has noticed a widening gap between short and long term yields. What does it all mean? Is someone like the Chinese manipulating the market?

A steepening yield curve could mean that investors are worried about the deterioration in the U.S. economic outlook… or the possibility for a collapse in the U.S. dollar as the Federal Reserve continues to load the world with newly minted currency as part of its recent program.

Economists are involved in open combat over what is driving the signs and even worse, what the cause or the solution really is. Some Fed officials believe that a recent glimmer-of-hope in economic data is encouraging investors to believe there is less need for ‘safer government bonds’. Richard Fisher in the Dallas Fed contends that the steepening yield curve is generally a sign of a recovery, but huge debt may dampen that perception.

What is certain is that the U.S. Treasury is being forced to sell more bonds to cover the unprecented U.S. debt and falling tax revenues as a result of the recession. What does appear to be certain is that the relentless dumping of dollars on the market will ultimately result in inflation that could easily get out of hand. Is it recovery from investor confidence, investor manipulation, worried investors or defective monetary policy driven by central bankers? Not even the gods of finance know the answer. The gods of finance do not know right or wrong. They know theory and are now in uncharted territory.

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