Friday, November 15, 2013

Janet Yellen and the The “Pink Dream”: Prelude to an American Nightmare

By Joseph Salerno

On Monday, former Fed official Andrew Huszar publicly apologized to the American public for his seminal role in executing the QE program, a program he characterizes as “the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time,” and  ”the largest financial-markets intervention by any government in world history.”  While this is a momentous admission from an insider (Mr. Huszar is also a former Wall Street banker), perhaps Mr. Huszar’s most revealing statement concerned the results of  QE “relentlessly pumping money into the financial markets during the past five years.”  He referred to the spectacular rally in financial markets and expressed agreement with the growing belief among expert observers that  market conditions had become “bubble-like.”

In a paper just released by the American Enterprise Institute, another former policymaker, resident fellow Desmond Lachman, formerly deputy director of the International Monetary Fund’s Policy Development and Review Department, warns that QE and other “unorthodox monetary policies” are having “unintended consequences.”  Among other consequences, Lachman sees signs of incipient bubbles forming throughout the world:
An important aim of the QE policies pursued in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan has been to encourage risk taking and to raise asset prices as the means to stimulate aggregate demand. The question that now needs to be asked is whether these policies may have given rise to excessive risk taking, overleveraging, and bubbles in asset and credit markets. In this context, one has to wonder whether historically low yields on junk bonds in the industrialized countries now understate the risk of owning those bonds. . . . One also has to wonder whether yields on sovereign bonds in the European periphery have become disassociated from those countries’ underlying economic fundamentals and whether global equity valuations have not become excessively rich.
The markets for gems and for collectibles have also become very frothy of late.  Yesterday, new records were set for a gemstone  and for an Andy Warhol piece of art sold at auction.  The “Pink Dream,” is 59.60 carat vivid pink diamond, which is the highest color grade for diamonds, and the purity of its crystals  is ranked among the top two percent in the world.  The record setting price was $83 million.  Not coincidentally, the  DJIA set an intraday record shortly before the auction.  The new artist record price for the Andy Warhol piece was $105.4 million. The auction’s combined $199.5 million in revenues was also a record for Sotheby’s.  During Sotheby’s Geneva fall auction season, records were also set for the prices of an orange diamond and a Rolex Daytona watch.
While the Austrian insight that super-accommodative Fed  monetary policy  may be causing a recurrence  of asset bubbles is making headway in policy circles, it has not yet dawned on Janet Yellen.  Nor is such an epiphany likely.

1 comment:

  1. Regarding the famous Keynesian "trend line" and the alleged "output gap" between actual and "potential GNP", has anybody ever found a Keynesian to explain why the "trend line" (which consists mostly of the terms of transactions which were ultimately unsustainable and led to a bust), should be artificially replicated with more spending and more funny money?

    That question usually ends any exchange I might have been having with a Keynesian.