Considering the only soundbite that was relevant from Ben Bernanke’s 45 minute 2:15pm oratory was that "we don’t have a precise read on why this slower pace of growth is persisting" America, and the entire civilized world, could have done just as well without it. Instead, we should have listened to Jim Grant, who once again correctly identifies all the things that the Fed chairman should have said (Bernanke certainly focused on the other side): "What we are not going to get is a concession that QE2 has achieved its unintended consequences, namely a lower dollar exchange rate, a higher gold price meaning weaker confidence in the dollar, slower economic growth and a higher measured rate of inflation.
Those are some of the things that have come out of this experiment and let us call it by its name money printing…How do we know that this 30% gain in the Russell and 20% gain in Dow since the Chairman spoke in August, how are we to know these are real values. The prices are up, but are people who are buying these stocks on the back of the Fed, are they doing something wise from an investment point of view, and if the market is too high because the Fed has put it there, what does the Fed do when the market comes down, which opens the fate for QE3." And on a far more important topic which we will soon hear much more of, namely extensive US money market exposure in Europe, which will be completely locked up if, pardon, when there is a major liquidity run in Europe snagging American money market liquidity: "The money market mutual funds have nothing to do in this country cause rates are zero, go to Europe. So money market mutual funds investors are taking quite ponderable risks for about a 0% return, these funds are yielding a few basis points only.
But to get those few basis point, these funds are crossing the Atlantic right smack dab in the middle of the European banking crisis. This is a prime example of the unintended consequences of this massive intervention by our central bank." Indeed, this is just one simple example of the massive clusterfuck, which certainly does not need Greece’s $5 billion notional in CDS, to make the Lehman liquidity freeze seems like a little melting ice cube. And since everyone now agrees that Greece will default, and it is only a matter of time, all the trillions in dollars in the shadow and open banking systems that we have been exposing for years now, will suddenly be locked up in the forms of 1 and 0 in computers belonging to institutions that are no longer operational. And most unfortunately, the man in charge of it all, has a quivering lip problem.
Much more in the entire must watch interview with Bloomberg’s Margaret Brennan:
As to what a lock up of money markets would mean, here is an oldie from 2009 in which Paul Kanjorski explains how close we came when money market funds broke the buck: