Investors are eagerly waiting to hear if U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will announce QE3 this week. Bernanke speaks Thursday at the conclusion of the two-day Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting and many expect him to announce some form of stimulus to revive the struggling U.S. economy.
But there's another huge event scheduled this week, one that could provide a tool other than printing money for boosting U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).
Believe it or not, analysts at JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NSYE: JPM) estimate that the Apple iPhone 5, expected to be unveiled tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon and on sale by the end of this month, will raise GDP by 0.5% in the fourth quarter of this year.
Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald appeared on Fox Business' "Varney & Co." program Tuesday morning to discuss the possibility of this iPhone effect and what it implies.
"JPMorgan's report suggesting that Apple's new iPhone could contribute a 0.5% bump to GDP caught my eye," said Fitz-Gerald. "I don't know whether to be concerned that our economy is so bad that something as innocuous as a cell phone could cause it to jump by that amount or whether we have become so tech dependent that we'll clamor to have it at any cost. What happened to airplanes, cars, houses, and all these other things we used to depend on?"
Yet, Apple is the largest company ever in terms of market cap and consumers flock to buy its products every time they are revealed. Demand for the iPhone 5 could be the biggest sales driver to date.
That means the iPhone 5 has a good shot of meeting – or exceeding – JPMorgan's estimate of boosting economic growth by 0.5%.
"Apple continues to produce new products which we somehow continue to buy," said Fitz-Gerald. "There's no competitor in the wings, nobody who can take that crown from them right now, so I would argue that if the prices hold, they're probably going to contribute that and more to the economy."
QE3 Only Hurts U.S.
But what about Bernanke and QE3? Why wouldn't further stimulus be a better boost to the economy than Apple's new iPhone?
Fitz-Gerald said printing more money is a burden on the economy in the long-term. Bernanke is just making up for losses created by our financial system instead of creating real products like Apple does.
Fitz-Gerald warned that Bernanke's stimulus measures will only lead to inflation and other risks, but expects to see QE3 or a variation of it announced Thursday.
"I believe Bernanke's actions are damaging to the economy. They are not, in fact, stimulative but merely pushing problems down the road again," said Fitz-Gerald. "But printing money is all Bernanke and his central banking buddies know so that's what they will do even if they don't call it that. The upshot is that as long as they have the keys to the printing presses, the party will continue."
Check out the accompanying video to get all of Fitz-Gerald's analysis on the iPhone 5 and QE3. Tune in to Bernanke's press conference Thursday at 2 p.m. EDT to see if the Fed will pull the trigger on QE3.
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- Money Morning:
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QE3 Risks: Why this Harvard Economist Fears More Stimulus