Hints from the U.S. Federal Reserve this week that the quantitative easing (QE) taper is near pushed the Dow down 105 points Wednesday - but the idea of less Fed stimulus has caused much more turmoil in certain overseas markets.
The problem: A corresponding hike in U.S. debt yields has fueled higher borrowing costs around the globe. This has led to the flight of cheap capital out of emerging currencies and markets.
That triggered the following reactions:
Check Out What the FOMC Meeting Minutes Did to the Stock Market Today
In one of the most highly anticipated releases of the year, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting minutes from July 30-31 were released today (Wednesday).
They will be picked apart for days - but here's what you need to know.
FOMC Meeting: Fed Just Backtracked on QE Taper Talk
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting ended today (Wednesday) with word that the Fed plans to the stay the course on QE for now, backtracking from earlier hints it might begin tapering this fall.
"For all those looking for clear guidance on when quantitative easing will end, well, you will have to wait a little longer," Joel Naroff, president and chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors Inc., wrote in a research note. "Indeed, there may have been some walking backwards today."
Money Morning Capital Wave Strategist Shah Gilani said it's no surprise the Fed has backed away from talk of tapering.
FOMC Meeting: Look to Statement for QE Clues
Don't expect a definitive answer from this week's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting on when the Fed will begin tapering its massive quantitative easing program.
Instead, the focus will be on the FOMC's statement, which will be scoured for clues about when scaling back QE3 could begin.
"We do not expect any modifications to the asset purchase pace or forward guidance at this meeting, so markets are likely to hang on every word change in the statement," Michael Hanson, an economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research, said in a research report.
This month's FOMC meeting is the last before September, the month the markets have been expecting the Fed to announce "the taper."
Brian Gardner, senior vice president of Washington Research at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, said the economic outlook will be key to finding taper clues.
"We do not expect any changes in policy (either for large-scale asset purchases or for Fed funds rates) but the commentary on the state of the economy could be significant," Gardner said in a research note. "As Fed officials have recently reinforced their intent to look at the outlook for the labor market and the economy, any change in the Fed's description of the economy could provide a better idea of when the Fed might taper asset purchases."
But, Gardner added, "Our guess is that any change in language will be nuanced and keep the markets guessing about when the Fed will taper."
He said Friday's jobs report may ultimately be as significant as the FOMC statement in terms of gauging when tapering would take place.
Bill Gross: Why QE Will End Before the Fed Wants It To
Legendary bond guru Bill Gross doesn't think too highly of the Federal Reserve and Ben Bernanke's monetary policies.
"There comes a point when no matter how much blood is being pumped through the system as it is now, with zero-based policy rates and global quantitative easing programs, that the blood itself may become anemic, oxygen-starved, or even leukemic, with white blood cells destroying more productive red cell counterparts," Gross writes in his June investment outlook titled Wounded Heart.
Gross believes that QE, which he describes akin to a bad dose of chemotherapy, will end later this year but not because of a suddenly strengthening economy.
Do We Really Need the Federal Reserve System?
Abolishing the Federal Reserve System might seem like a drastic idea, but not when you get the full story...
You see, Congress created the U.S. Federal Reserve System to restore public confidence, provide the banking system a source of liquidity that would prevent its collapse and protect the public against inflation.
A century later, the banking system is so big its risks dwarf the Fed's liquidity capacity, and what cost a buck back then now will set you back $21.
That's why we asked Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald to explain how the Federal Reserve System actually helps a country's economy.
Most importantly, we wanted to know if the United States - or any country - even needs the Fed anymore.
Why Ben Bernanke's Market Manipulation is So Brilliant
Nothing lasts forever, apparently not even quantitative easing.
On Wednesday, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke threatened to take away the massive punch bowl that's been spiked with easy money juice.
There's no set timetable, but maybe there is. It's hard to interpret Fedspeak.
So maybe they'll start paring back their $85 billion a month buying spree, or maybe they'll jack it up, which is what Benny said only a few sessions ago.
What the heck is he doing? What are they doing? And who are "they" anyway?
Here's the deal...
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7 Reasons Not to Trust the Bernanke Testimony to Congress
As usual, the markets were hanging on every word of the Bernanke testimony to Congress today (Wednesday).
By now, everyone should know better.
In the years that U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has been a member of the Fed - both as a member of the Board of Governors from 2002 to 2005, and in his two terms as chairman beginning in 2006 - he has been stupendously wrong time and time again.
Bernanke gave the markets what they wanted by hinting that his monetary easing policies won't change any time soon, pushing both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index up more than 0.5% in midday trading.
What You Absolutely Need to Know About Money (Part 8)
It all starts with the Arab oil embargo of 1973-74.
The Arab members of OPEC proclaimed an oil embargo to punish the U.S. for aiding Israel. This action quadrupled the price of oil, roiling commodity markets, equities, bonds, and foreign exchange markets.
Energy prices soared. Speculation in oil exploration and production became feverish.
There was money everywhere.
Oil exporters in the Arab states were depositing their windfall "petrodollars" into big U.S. banks, who were in turn lending the money out as fast as they could.
What You Absolutely Need to Know About Money (Part 7)
By the start of the 1960s, banking in America was in a state of flux.
Boundaries were being blurred - especially those separating "commercial banks" and "investment banks" under Depression-era Glass-Steagall parameters. The banking landscape was shifting. In fact, it was about to go volcanic.
The Truman Administration had championed the break-up of bank cartel arrangements, whereby a powerful coterie of commercial-bank bond underwriters controlled how corporations financed debt and who got to distribute bond offerings. Subsequent regulatory changes (requiring bidding for underwriting assignments) broke up the "Gentleman Bankers Code," which had been code for cartel.