There will be NO announcement of QE 3 tomorrow. Why? Because the Fed has trapped itself into a corner. The first two rounds of Quantitative Easing (QE1 and 2) were viable for the Fed as inflation was running at deflationary levels in 2009 and at the bottom of their target range of 1-3% in 2010.
In both instances the implementation of asset purchase programs, which immediately juiced liquidity in the financial markets, had an immediate and pronounced effect on the level of inflation.
Today, with inflation currently approaching 4% on a year-over-year basis the Fed is not only outside its inflation mandate of 1-3% but any further cost pressures on the consumer is going to drive the economy into a recession. As we showed recently in our post on 3rd quarter GDP with food and energy consumer more than 23% of wages and salaries there is very little wiggle room for the average American.
Without access to credit, declining incomes on a year-over-year basis and uncertainty about employment there is tremendous strain on the consumer to make ends meet. The Fed knows this. They also know that without help from somewhere the economy is in trouble. The hope is that they can “talk” the markets along.
Therefore, expect no announcement of QE 3 tomorrow but lots of talk about policy tools, potential for further action and another punt to current Administration. However, there is a bigger problem brewing, and one that has been set aside due to the issues with Greece, the “Super Committee” only has 22 days left to announce the spending reduction plans before the automatic cuts take hold. This won’t be good.
Unfortunately for Ben, and the Fed, they are trapped between the need to “do something” to boost the financial markets and support the economy but are constrained by their mandates to keep inflationary pressures under control. There is no help coming from a deeply divided Administration that can find no middle ground to compromise on. Furthermore, the automatic spending cuts are going to sap a portion of the 23% of personal incomes that are made up of government transfers. The consumer is tapped out, the economy is much weaker than the headline numbers suggest and without liquidity assistance from the Fed you can expect the recession to take hold in 2012.
However, we might get surprised by the Fed as they have done it before. The real question is even if they do something will it be enough to offset the damage that has already been done.
Images: Flickr (licence attribution)
About The Author
Lance Roberts – Host of Streettalk Live
After having been in the investing world for more than 25 years from private banking and investment management to private and venture capital; Lance has pretty much “been there and done that” at one point or another. His common sense approach has appealed to audiences for over a decade and continues to grow each and every week.
Lance is also the Chief Editor of the X-Report, a weekly subscriber based-newsletter that is distributed nationwide. The newsletter covers economic, political and market topics as they relate to the management portfolios. A daily financial blog, audio and video’s also keep members informed of the day’s events and how it impacts your money.
Lance’s investment strategies and knowledge have been featured on Fox 26, CNBC, Fox Business News and Fox News. He has been quoted by a litany of publications from the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The Washington Post all the way to TheStreet.com as well as on several of the nation’s biggest financial blogs such as the Pragmatic Capitalist, Zero Hedge and Seeking Alpha.