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We’re getting closer to the point discussed a few weeks ago about markets giving up on the Fed.
At the time the 10 year was maybe 3.75-3.80, gold had gone about 1,200, the dollar was near the lows, crude was back over 80, stocks were up, all based on the belief the Fed had the power to ‘reflate’ and was ‘printing money’ through trillions of ‘quantitative easing’ which was, sooner or later, hyper inflationary, along with 0 interest rates and ‘record deficits’ which would drive up interest rates, risk default and a sudden breakdown of the $US, all contributing to the same inflationary collapse.
Now that the bets have been placed, and none of that is happening, it’s all starting to erode. Crude is back below 75 (the Saudis’ actual target/range?), gold is selling off, the dollar is edging higher, the 10 year just traded at 3.57, stocks are selling off, etc.
The next step is for first markets and then policy makers to realize the Fed has no tools to inflate. That 0 rates and qe don’t cut it. Nor are deficits large enough to reflate. Bernanke was asked by Time magazine late last year if he had any tools left. He said yes. When asked what they were, he had no specific answer. Well, if he does have more tools, with 10% unemployment and weak prices and a dual mandate for full employment and price stability, what’s he waiting for?
Should market psychology turn to the notion that the Fed has no tools to inflate, and we have a Congress dead set against larger deficits, it can all get very ugly very quickly in the race to the exit from the inflation plays (including steepeners) currently on the books.