Central Banks Have Realized Their Worst Nightmares Are Approaching
Central Bankers will never openly admit that they or their policies have failed. Moreover, they do not rush into sudden tightening (more on this in a moment). But one can begin to notice subtle changes in their language and actions that indicate they have noticed what’s happening in Japan (the failure of the BoJ’s “shock and awe” QE program to generate growth).
Nowhere is this more clear than at the US’s Federal Reserve or Fed. Indeed, starting in August 2013, various Fed officials began questioning the efficacy of QE.
First came the San Francisco Fed with a study revealing that QE generally doesn’t appear to generate economic growth:
Asset purchase programs like QE2 appear to have, at best, moderate effects on economic growth and inflation. Research suggests that the key reason these effects are limited is that bond market segmentation is small.
Moreover, the magnitude of LSAP effects depends greatly on expectations for interest rate policy, but those effects are weaker and more uncertain than conventional interest rate policy. This suggests that communication about the beginning of federal funds rate increases will have stronger effects than guidance about the end of asset purchases.
A few months later, the former Fed official in charge of the Fed’s first round of QE, penned a Wall Street Journal article stating that QE was in fact a Wall Street bailout.
I can only say: I’m sorry, America. As a former Federal Reserve official, I was responsible for executing the centerpiece program of the Fed’s first plunge into the bond-buying experiment known as quantitative easing. The central bank continues to spin QE as a tool for helping Main Street. But I’ve come to recognize the program for what it really is: the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time…
It wasn’t long before my old doubts resurfaced. Despite the Fed’s rhetoric, my program [QE] wasn’t helping to make credit any more accessible for the average American. The banks were only issuing fewer and fewer loans. More insidiously, whatever credit they were extending wasn’t getting much cheaper. QE may have been driving down the wholesale cost for banks to make loans, but Wall Street was pocketing most of the extra cash.
Around this time, the Fed began to taper QE first by $10 billion in December… and another $10 billion in January. By this point even uber-dove Fed President Bill Dudley (he formerly claimed inflation is low because iPads are getting cheaper) even admitted the following…
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