Minting a trillion-dollar platinum coin to pay our debts may seem ridiculous. But in fact, our government has done the same thing for the past five years, creating more than $1 trillion out of thin air each year.
After four years of quantitative easing programs, including QE3 just last fall, U.S. Federal Reserve officials have started voicing doubts about its effectiveness and concerns that it is distorting the markets.
And it's not just the Fed's hawks, such as Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher and Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser, speaking out against the bond-buying extravaganza.
Doves like Atlanta's Dennis Lockhart and moderates like Kansas City's Esther George have expressed concerns about QE3 as well.
"I do think the growth of the Fed's balance sheet could have longer-term consequences that are worrisome. While I've supported these policy decisions to date, I acknowledge legitimate concerns," Lockhart said in a speech in Atlanta on Monday.
According to the minutes of the December Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, several members "thought that it would probably be appropriate to slow or to stop purchases well before the end of 2013, citing concerns about financial stability or the size of the balance sheet."
If in fact sentiment within the FOMC is turning against QE3, then the easy money spigot that has helped fuel the stock market and other investments could be switched off sooner than most expected, which could have a sharp impact on the markets.
It was conceived in 1910 and constructed for the benefit of the private bankers who control it. Congress blessed the scheme in 1913 with passage of the Federal Reserve Act.
These days the Fed doesn't just backstop America's too-big-to-fail banks. It has expanded its doctrine of socializing banking losses globally.
The Fed helped bail out private businesses, foreign big banks and central banks in Europe and Japan in the credit crisis of 2008 and is the model for the European Central Bank, as well as the ECB's primary backstop.
To understand how the Fed gets taxpayers around the world to pay the losses its member banks routinely incur, let's pull back the curtain on the Fed and explain how it operates.
Here's What the Fed Really DoesBanks lend money and sometimes they don't get paid back. That's not a problem if it doesn't happen too often and if profits from other loans and investments cover the loan losses.
But since banks have gotten really big and have to make big loans (due to economies of scale and return on capital expectations) they need big borrowers. There are no bigger borrowers on the planet than governments, and that's where a lot of banks are lending.
Of course, governments aren't immune to over-borrowing and insolvency.
All the big banks that lent to banks in countries now in financial straits continue to lend to them because if they don't they won't get paid back what they are owed. Banks would fail from a cascade of losses and would either have to be bailed out or shut down.
That's where the Federal Reserve comes in.
Getting, as in up the you-know-what!
I'm talking about getting socialism shoved up our capitalist backsides, for one thing.
It's simple: We are about to go over the so-called fiscal cliff. Why? Because Congress can't figure out how to stop spending money it doesn't have.
Forget the whole revenue side of the equation. It's only part of the mix of fixes, and the only fix that matters ain't fixed.
Stop spending money you don't have and you don't have to tax people more to pay for a bunch of crap they don't need, don't want, and don't even know they're getting.
Oh, that would be because on top of what we are getting there's even more that we're not getting.
Congress' paymasters are getting pork and beans for whatever they want because that's how our Congress gets elected, by greasing the wheels of insiders to get taxpayer money for their private purses, enough to plentifully pay for campaigns.
But that's only the "private" side of spending.
The spending scheme has mushroomed by expanding (and paying sickeningly outrageous wages and benefits) an ever-growing number of government workers.
And by expanding entitlements beyond what we are entitled to. And by expanding welfare and "social programs."
Yes, I am including 99 weeks of unemployment, and accompanying food stamps, and free money for unwed mothers to have more kids so they can collect more free money, and free day care, and all the other free stuff that ain't free if someone (that's you and me) is paying for it.
All that spending creates a class of people, a voting class. And, guess what they vote for?
Duh, that would be more free stuff.
So what's this got to do with the Fed?
I'm glad you asked...
The untold story is that when the Federal Reserve is done transitioning the United States from capitalism to socialism, the few dozen banks that remain in America will all be profitable until they need bailing out again, but will never die and live on in infamy.
Is that just hyperbole or some wild conspiracy theory? It's neither. Unfortunately, it's the bare, naked truth about the Fed.
It doesn't matter that you didn't know the Federal Reserve System was the brainchild of a handful of the world's most powerful bankers.
Or that all of them took a secret train from New Jersey to Jekyll Island, Georgia (owned by J.P. Morgan) in 1910 aboard Rhode Island Senator Nelson Aldrich's private car to devise and orchestrate the creation of the Federal Reserve.
Or that Aldrich was an investment associate of J.P. Morgan, that his son-in-law was John D. Rockefeller, Jr., or that he was the political spokesman for big business and banking interests in Congress.
It doesn't matter if you don't know who the powerful bankers are today that run the Fed's twelve district banks. Or that the Fed's New York Bank conducts all its open market operations with a bunch of favored big banks it protects (Case in point, MF Global).
Or that one former Chairman of the New York Bank's Board, who was also and still is a Goldman Sachs board member, resigned from the Fed when it was discovered he bought $3 million worth of Goldman's stock right before the Fed made sure Goldman wouldn't have to go out of business at the height of the financial crisis.
What matters, is that without the Federal Reserve the banking system in the United States would be more honest, more competitive and less of a risk to the economy than it is now.
And what really matters, is understanding the Federal Reserve could never exist and do what it does in an open democracy, and that its agenda of socializing risks (making taxpayers eat bankers' losses) and privatizing their profits (letting them keep their bonuses) for the benefit of its club members (the banks) means the Federal Reserve has to transform America to a socialist model in order to maintain its own growth and ultimate power.
Of course, it's not a stretch to see how the Fed's socialist agenda will eventually encompass most of the American economy over time.
But to keep it simple, let's look at how the Fed has already done that to the benefit of its primary constituents: banks and bankers.
But if you take any time to learn how the Fed really works and in whose interest they operate, you'd make yourself sick for a long, long time.
The truth about the Federal Reserve is that it's a dangerous, insidious socialist tool.
Rather than allowing free markets to function as a "clearing mechanism" that rewards success and punishes failure, the Fed fosters underdevelopment of third-world nations, props up corrupt governments, protects the greedy, self-serving banking constituency it serves, and by design promotes socialism to further its mandate to enrich its masters.
I'm sick of the Fed and their control over the U.S. Congress, the American economy, and the world order.
It's about time the American public revolted against the Fed and our pandering Congressmen who pimp for it, abrogated their Constitutional duties to it, and get rich off it, all the while pretending they control it and it's some kind of Constitutional safeguard.
The Untold Story About The Federal ReserveYou see, the Fed was the brainchild of a bunch of the world's most powerful bankers and a few greedy U.S. Congressmen who were not surprisingly in the employ of banker backers.
The history of the Fed is a fascinating story about American politics and power-broking bankers.
The undisputed truth about the creation and mandate of the Federal Reserve System is laid bare, beautifully I might add, in G. Edward Griffin's The Creature from Jekyll Island.
I thought I knew a lot about the Fed, and it turns out I do. But there is so much more that I didn't know, and it's all laid out in the book, with all the accompanying references and proof.
It chilled me to my very core...
Thank goodness they're so big!
Thank goodness all the big banks in America are all much bigger now than they were a few years ago, before the financial crisis brought them to their knees, by their own doing, of course.
Don't you just love it when a plan comes together?
Yeah, it's all part of "The Plan" to eliminate pesky banking competition.
Let me show you how nicely it's working...
The Fed's 100-Year PlanThe Plan was hatched a long time ago. Back in 1913, as a matter of fact.
That's when Congress devised the Federal Reserve System for eliminating competition and making sure U.S. taxpayers would be the lender of last resort to big bankers.
It has taken a while, 100 years, in fact. But it is working.
The first sign it was working came in the 1980s and '90s, when the savings and loans got into serious trouble playing the greed game.
They weren't covered by the Federal Reserve System. So they were shut down, or rolled up by government-backed insiders (Congress' puppet-masters), and later sold to big banks for sweet profits.
Anyway, they're gone. No more pesky competition from S&L associations.
Now look who's next on the chopping block...
I say this because he recently told the Economic Club of Indiana in Indianapolis that the Fed's plans for QE3 would help create more economic activity and higher home prices. Then he added, almost as an afterthought, that this would help many more savers than it would hurt.
I was waiting for the punch line...or the laugh track...or maybe an old bada-boom from Paul Schaeffer's band offstage. Only it never came.
It's like he was making a bad joke, "but QE is good for savers. No, really! I swear..."
Why the Fed chief keeps linking housing prices to savings and, by implication, to an economic recovery defies logic.
No matter how hard he tries, he can't solve our nation's economic woes by making the same mistakes all over again.
Part of the reason housing blew up in the first place is that people began to view rising home prices as personal ATM machines. Now Bernanke is simply putting a new face on the same monster.
Think about it...
We already have a multi-year oversupply in homes on the market and ridiculous amounts of construction are still going on in parts of the country where there are quite literally no buyers. If you've been to Las Vegas or parts of Florida you know exactly what I'm talking about.
How many homes do we really need at a time when values remain 30%-50%, and in some places even 70% below their peak?
Certainly not the millions of new homes that Bernanke thinks we do while unemployment remains high and actual buying power has been dramatically reduced.
And millions of strapped American families two paychecks away from bankruptcy surely don't care.
Bernanke's False BottomNow I know the media is very excited about recent data showing a recovery in housing prices, but let's take a deep breath. Seasonal demand accounts for a good portion of the bump. So does bargain hunting.
This suggests a new round of speculators has entered the game -- and those folks are buying with cash, making mortgages irrelevant.
As a result, prices are being bid up even though overall demand remains relatively constant.
Then there are the banks. All of them claim they want to lend money, yet find every excuse not to. While they will claim otherwise, practically speaking they're saying one thing and doing another.
This, too, speaks to a massive disconnect.
"Plenty, actually," I told him.
In fact, there are a wide-range of choices available for income-hungry investors who are struggling to overcome the Fed's disastrous zero-interest rate policies.
Obviously, though, the suitability varies widely depending on individual liquidity, credit and yield requirements.
Here are some of the more interesting options I've been exploring lately:
Near-Term Tax Free Fund (NEARX): From U.S. Global Investors, this fund is billed as an alternative for investors who want safety but are willing to take on a bit more risk.
I like the fact that the fund is a very consistent performer with more than 10 years of positive numbers in the record books. I also appreciate that the fund has been around since December 1990, particularly since I view it as a possible substitute for traditional money market funds or even CDs.
Morningstar gives NEARX 4-Star ratings overall in the 3-, 5-, and 10-year categories, while Lipper bestows 5 stars for preservation, expense and tax efficiency.
The fund's goal is pretty straightforward. It invests in municipal bonds with short-term maturities issued by state and local governments nationwide.
Examples include holdings from the City of Chicago, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the City of San Antonio Texas Water System Revenue.
The strategy is pretty simple. With at least 80% of its net assets invested in investment-grade munis, it's exempt from federal income tax -- including my personal "favorite" middle-class eviscerator, the alternative minimum tax.
Maturities are kept to five years or less to avoid the volatility associated with longer-dated issues and the threat of rising interest rates. The average maturity is 3.40 years, while the average duration is slightly lower at 3.06.
30-Day SEC Yield: 1.03%
Expense Ratio: .45%
Note: Don't be unnecessarily put off by the 1.03% yield. Remember this is a tax-exempt fund.
On a tax equivalent basis, the yield jumps to 1.77% for an individual in the 35% tax bracket. That's actually higher than the yield on 10-year Treasuries as of press time.
iShares Morningstar Multi-Asset Income Index Fund (IYLD): From iShares, this fund is a more aggressive choice for income-hungry investors. It tracks the underlying Morningstar Multi-asset High Income Index, which is itself comprised of equity, fixed income and alternative income exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
The problem with being here is the "there" part.
I'm talking about where the markets are and where they're going next. Is "there" backwards or forwards? Are we coming or going from here?
Before I give you my own forecast, and recommendation, let me say this about that...
Here are the two best forecasts I've ever heard:
- "It will fluctuate," which was what J.P. Morgan famously answered when asked what the market would do, and
- "I cannot forecast to you the action... It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma," which is what Winston Churchill famously said, not about the market, but about Russia. (The full first line is, "I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia.") But you get the picture.
It's clear and sunny. Haven't you looked outside? If only it was that easy...
But when you do look outside, let's say, through a window, you only see in one direction. The question can then be asked, is the weather you're looking at coming or going, or is it here to stay?
America, and indeed the global financial markets, came to the precipice of a cliff and barely caught their balance before plummeting into an abyss so deep and black that no one knows where it would have taken us. But my guess is to Hell.
The rope that held us from going over was stimulus, massive stimulus.
That stimulus was never mopped up. It's been left out there like water on everything after the fire has been doused; and there's more coming.
The Federal Reserve, which isn't playing just 18 holes, but seems like it's playing a marathon round of swinging hard and gently, but constantly swinging, is teeing up another ball with some little marking that reads QEsquared, or something like that.
Here's my guess on what the Fed is going to do...
The Fed announced that it would expand Operation Twist by $267 billion through the end of the year.
"This continuation of the maturity extension program (Operation Twist) should put downward pressure on longer-term interest rates and help to make broader financial conditions more accommodative," the Federal Open Market Committee said today in a statement at the conclusion of a two-day meeting in Washington.
The committee stated that economic growth has been "expanding moderately" this year but warned that "growth in employment has slowed in recent months, and the unemployment rate remains elevated."
Meanwhile, Greek formed a coalition government consisting of New Democracy, socialist party Pasok and the Democratic Party of the Left. Antonis Samaras, leader of the New Democracy party, was sworn in as prime minister earlier today.
"Greece has a government ... that is the message that we need to send abroad," said Evangelos Venizelos, leader of Pasok.
The embattled country had gone 223 days without an elected government. One of the new regime's first tasks will likely be renegotiating its bailout terms with the European Union and International Monetary Fund.
Stocks opened slightly lower awaiting the Fed's decision, but following its announcement the market took a sharp dive before heading back upward as many investors had hoped for QE3 rather than more "Twist."
There are two companies that are leading stocks downward today, The Procter & Gamble Co. (NYSE: PG) and Adobe Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ADBE).