Tapering ... Bah!

by Michael J. Howell15. August 2013 09:34
'the money here is awful ...and such small flows...' is a Groucho Marx-like reflection on the growing debate over Fed tapering. Fact #1 is that QE3 is no QE1 and never was. The $85 billion monthly Fed injections could easily be trimmed to $75 bn at the September FOMC, but these flows are anyway being swamped by buoyant private sector liquidity inflows. These private flows, not the Fed, explain the firm US dollar; the rebounding US economy and rising bond yields. In short, policy-makers have been fooling the markets this year with their power. Fact #2 most of the Fed cash is effectively going to support the still fragile wholesale money markets. Given the vast increase in OTC bond issuance/ trading since 2008, these wholesale markets are probably still vital in providing funding for market makers. Fact #3 the Fed is internally worried by growing speculative activity and needs to show its hand. We know that the key decision makers anyway prefer 'forward guidance' to 'QE', so the latter is an easy sacrifice. Bottom line? Expect a September move to reduce QE. This will not derail the economic recovery, but it is likely to help the US dollar climb higher, and most importantly it will be yet another factor leading to greater market volatility over the next 12 months. Tapering matters, but not that much.

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