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Tuesday, April 07, 2009 11:56 PM


Bernanke's Deflation Preventing Scorecard


In case no one is keeping track, Bernanke has now fired every bullet from his 2002 “helicopter drop” speech Deflation: Making Sure "It" Doesn't Happen Here.

Bernanke's Scorecard

Here is Bernanke’s roadmap, and a “point-by-point” list from that speech.

1. Reduce nominal interest rate to zero. Check. That didn’t work...
2. Increase the number of dollars in circulation, or credibly threaten to do so. Check. That didn’t work...
3. Expand the scale of asset purchases or, possibly, expand the menu of assets it buys. Check & check. That didn’t work...
4. Make low-interest-rate loans to banks. Check. That didn’t work...
5. Cooperate with fiscal authorities to inject more money. Check. That didn’t work...
6. Lower rates further out along the Treasury term structure. Check. That didn’t work...
7. Commit to holding the overnight rate at zero for some specified period. Check. That didn’t work...
8. Begin announcing explicit ceilings for yields on longer-maturity Treasury debt (bonds maturing within the next two years); enforce interest-rate ceilings by committing to make unlimited purchases of securities at prices consistent with the targeted yields. Check, and check. That didn’t work...
9. If that proves insufficient, cap yields of Treasury securities at still longer maturities, say three to six years. Check (they’re buying out to 7 years right now.) That didn’t work...
10. Use its existing authority to operate in the markets for agency debt. Check (in fact, they “own” the agency debt market!) That didn’t work...
11. Influence yields on privately issued securities. (Note: the Fed used to be restricted in doing that, but not anymore.) Check. That didn’t work...
12. Offer fixed-term loans to banks at low or zero interest, with a wide range of private assets deemed eligible as collateral (…Well, I’m still waiting for them to accept bellybutton lint & Beanie Babies, but I’m sure my patience will be rewarded. Besides their “mark-to-maturity” offers will be more than enticing!) Anyway… Check. That didn’t work...
13. Buy foreign government debt (and although Ben didn’t specifically mention it, let’s not forget those dollar swaps with foreign nations.) Check. That didn’t work...

Bernanke has failed. "It" has happened. The proof is irrefutable as detailed in Humpty Dumpty On Inflation and Fiat World Mathematical Model.

What now Ben? More of the same stuff that failed miserably before, only on a grander scale?

Addendum

Susanne Trimbath writing for NewGeography takes a different approach on the success of Bernanke in The Rogue Treasury.

The U.S. Treasury took enormous powers for itself last fall by telling Congress they would use it to “ensure the economic well-being of Americans.” Six months after passage of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 Americans are worse off. Since it was signed into law on October 3, 2008, here are the changes in a few measures of our economic well-being:



The U.S. government has already paid out $2.9 trillion, with further commitments to raise the total to over $7 trillion – a number that Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) said “is mind-boggling, indeed it is surreal. It’s like having a second government.” The money Treasury is passing out is more than all government spending in 2008. The Senate Finance Committee, of which Baucus is chair, held a hearing on March 31 (TARP Oversight: A Six Month Update). The three parties established as monitors in the 2008 legislation were there to testify. Without exception they “are deeply troubled by the direction in which Treasury has gone.”

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) suggested [referring to former-Secretary Paulson] that Congress “was awed by a person who comes off of Wall Street, making tens of millions of dollars. … You think he knows all the answers and when it’s all said and done you realize he didn’t know anything more about it than you did.”
Repeating the closing remarks from above ....

Bernanke has failed. "It" has happened.

Addendum August 4, 2010:

Regarding scorecard points 8 and 9 above: the Fed did purchase treasuries and agencies, but without an explicit ceiling.

Please see my July 13, 2010 followup Are we "Trending Towards Deflation" or in It?

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com
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