On December 12, 2012, the Federal Reserve announced further quantitative easing. Aside from its $40.0-billion-a-month mortgaged-backed securities program, starting in January, it will buy $45.0 billion a month in U.S. Treasury securities. Why? “…to support a stronger economic recovery,” according to the central bank. (Source: Federal Reserve, December 12, 2012.)
While announcing more quantitative easing in the U.S. economy, our central bank also promised that it will continue to keep interest rates artificially low (near zero) until the unemployment rate reaches 6.5%. Its projection for inflation for two years out is 2.5% per annum.
The creation of new money and keeping interest rates artificially low isn’t anything new. This has been happening in the U.S. economy since 2008, but there are no specific dates for when the “money printing” will end. Hence, I get the impression that quantitative easing may go on for a long, long time!
The U.S. unemployment rate in November stood at 7.7%. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 13, 2012.) This means that if the Fed desires an unemployment rate in the U.S. economy of 6.5% before it stops printing new money, the unemployment rate has to decline by 15.5%.
Looking back at recent unemployment rate numbers, if the rate of decline stays the same as in recent history, it will take roughly 15 months for the U.S. unemployment rate to reach 6.5%—if there are no hiccups in the economy.
Inflation, according to the consumer price index (CPI), is running at 2.2%. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, November 15, 2012.) Unfortunately, as we have established in these pages, the current CPI calculation doesn’t capture the real inflation rate that U.S. consumers experience. The real inflation rate, if I had to estimate, is above five percent per annum.
And if the Fed prints for another 15 months, at $85.0 billion a month, the Federal Reserve will create $1.275 trillion in money out of thin air. Inflation rising at a real rate of five percent, while the Fed prints another $1.275 trillion in paper money, is a real problem. Rising inflation and more money in the system, as we have already experienced, results in a decline in purchasing power!
So let’s look two years out. Two years from now, the U.S. unemployment rate falls to 6.5%. At the same time, the balance sheet of the Federal Reserve has mushroomed to $4.0 trillion. Under such a scenario, I see real inflation being a real problem. As inflation rises, gold bullion prices will rise; as inflation rises, the buying power of the U.S. dollar declines; as inflation rises, interest rates rise.
Our economy can’t handle higher interest rates; our housing market cannot handle higher interest rates—even two years out. At this point, you can see why I am more pessimistic than optimistic about the future.
Where the Market Stands; Where It’s Headed:
Enjoy the traditional Christmas rally, dear reader. It won’t last. I see many signs that 2013 will be a challenging year for the U.S. economy, a challenging year for the stock market. In fact, I believe 2013 will be a major reversal year for the market.
What He Said:
“I’ve been pushing gold bullion and gold shares for over a year now. Back in January 2002, I personally started buying gold shares.” Michael Lombardi in Profit Confidential, December 13, 2002. Gold bullion was trading under $300.00 an ounce when Michael first started recommending gold-related investments.