March 16, 2022

The Wrong Way Fed.

At precisely 1:30 this afternoon, east coast time, the lights will come on, cameras focus. And Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve will take center stage.

And if all goes according to Wall Street's script, Powell will declare that the nation's central bank has raised short-term interest rates by 25 basis points to 50 basis points.

Catapulting the nation ahead of Singapore to have the 13th highest interest rate among the Group of 20 largest economies in the world.

By all indications, this has been an extraordinarily difficult decision by the Fed. As it has taken literally months to decide whether this is the right course of action. Involved in all this will be the rollback of the Fed's policy of stimulus for the economy.

Quantitative Easing, that monthly, multi-billion-dollar bond purchase program will now become part of history. Part of an effort by the Fed to get the nation out of the terrible recession (although it's not called that) caused by the economic lockdown of last year.

While this is a much-needed next step by the Fed. The need to raise rates is long overdue. The reality is that current interest rate levels are nowhere near a real rate of zero.

The real interest rate is calculated by subtracting inflation from the interest rate. And with inflation currently running at over 7 percent. You would have to raise rates by that amount just to come to zero. Something the Fed wouldn't dream of.

Put another way, as long as interest rates remain below the rate of inflation, the Fed is in fact providing monetary stimulus to the economy. Telling speculators to borrow all you want, your cost of "carry" will be below ongoing inflation.

And that, simply put, is why the Fed's in such a dither right now. They know they need to raise rates, and raise them dramatically to put this monetary ship back upright. But they dare not go too far before this economy slips into a deep, deep recession.

And the reason is that while the Fed can exercise a great deal of influence over the demand side, it has little to no influence over the supply side, as we've all seen over these last few months.

In fact, no one in this country has control over the supply side of this economy. And it is lack of supply that is the root cause of this inflation.

So one wonders whether the Fed raises interest rates or not today is it really relevant to the real disequilibrium in our financial system? Higher rates, after all, won't cause the price of gas to decline, food, or any of the other necessities of life.

Only additional supply will do that. And as long as the United States remains one of the few trillion-dollar importers in world history. It tells me that we're not getting even close to self-sufficiency. In fact, in the past year, we've become more dependent upon foreign supplies than ever.

For the United States, this unrelenting march toward globalism has turned a formerly self-sufficient industrial power-house into a country dependent upon others, even our enemies for the necessities of life.

How is it after all, that so much distress is caused by our boycott of Russian oil? A boycott as we're beginning to see has dramatic repercussions well beyond those intended by this Administration.

The point is that the richest country endowed arguably with the most natural resources in the world, now struggles economically because we cut off a major oil supplier. A double miscalculation by the President.

The result of all this is this major bout of inflation.

Inflation that will not, and cannot be brought under control by any action of the Federal Reserve today.

 

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