The Federal Reserve continues to be a friend of Wall Street and those who can take advantage of the low interest rates and ability to carry debt at low carrying costs.
But if you think for one minute that lower and Middle America is better off, then you may want to think again. Yes, it may be true that the cheap financing rates have helped the country to recover from the Great Recession via the purchasing of autos, homes, and other non-essential goods; but for many, the low rates have done very little to help them. Thank the Federal Reserve.
Have you seen what a bank pays in interest? The 10-year bond yield is around two percent, which is dismal unless, of course, you have millions to invest.
For the majority of America, it’s tough to make money, which is why we have seen a rising flow of money into stocks (thank the Federal Reserve) and a key reason for the S&P 500 to be at a record high. (Read “Why the Money-Driven Fed Rally Is Impressive.”)
Thank the Federal Reserve if you are investing and enjoying what a low-interest-rate environment can bring. If you are earning minimum wage, a senior dependent on social security, a student with tens of thousands of dollars of student loans and no job, then you probably don’t have a lot of positive things to say to the chief money printer of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke.
The current situation in America reminds me of an “only the strong survive” mentality. If you are financially set, then, well, everything is OK. If you are making the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, then it’s tough. If you wait, you could eventually get paid the proposed $10.00-an-hour minimum wage. Or you can always move to Australia where the minimum wage is around $15.59 per hour, or just north of the 49th parallel into Canada, where you can earn at least $9.75 to $11.00 per hour, depending on where you live in the country. (Sources: Fair Work Ombudsman, Australian Government web site, last accessed May 2, 2013; Human Resources and Skills Development Canada web site, last accessed May 2, 2013.)
So, here we are. The country’s housing sector is booming and looks somewhat bubble-like. But take a look at who made the money here. Cheap and foreclosed real estate was purchased by the boatload by institutions, hedge funds, and the wealthy. Thank the Federal Reserve.
The average American surely didn’t benefit from the rising property values to the same degree as the real estate investors. Making money on your principal residence is surely not as lucrative as making money on several properties—or several hundred properties.
The bottom line is: the Federal Reserve created this artificial economy, but while the media talks about how great the economy is doing, those who are left behind have become invisible.