Since August 15, 1971 the US dollar has been an irredeemable paper currency. Every irredeemable paper currency in history has failed. Yet, the experiment of the US dollar and the rest of the fiat paper world continues.
During the current crisis, however, financial systems all over the world are increasingly struggling, and the end of the experiment seems closer. In fact, the Federal Reserve System has used up much of its "ammunition" for monetary interventions in an attempt to keep the experiment going, lowering its target interest rate almost to zero. Other central banks are also quickly approaching the "zero limit" for interest rates.
During these inflationary decades, economic structures have developed that can only survive with falling interest rates. As the world approaches a zero interest rate, it appears that finally there might be a full adaptation of the structure of production to the demands of consumers, and the experiment might come to an end.
Yet, has the Fed really "run out of ammunition"? First of all: what is the Fed shooting at? It is trying to artificially stimulate the economy with its monetary policy, thereby it is also unwittingly shooting at the value of the currency. Through its monetary policy, the Fed is trying to bail out an insolvent and illiquid banking system to maintain an unsustainable structure of production. As long as the currency is not totally destroyed, the Fed will never run out of ammunition. In order to assess the ammunition left, one should have a look at the balance sheet of the Federal Reserve especially at the assets the Fed can still obtain. The Fed’s balance sheet also gives insights on the condition or quality of the dollar.
February 6, 2009