Friday, October 23, 2009

Where is the Inflation?

With so much money-printing at the Federal Reserve, one wonders.    Professor Alan H. Meltzer has some explanations in his Wall Street Journal op-ed, "Preventing the Next Financial Crisis :"

Many market participants reassure themselves that inflation won't come by noting the decline in yields on longer-term Treasury bonds and the spread between nominal Treasury yields and index-linked TIPS that protect against inflation. They measure expectations of higher inflation by the difference between these two rates, and imply long-term investors aren't demanding higher interest rates to protect themselves against it. But those traditional inflation-warning indicators are distorted because the Fed lends money at about a zero rate and the banks buy Treasury securities, reducing their yield and thus the size of the inflation premium.
Further, the Fed is buying massive amounts of mortgages to depress and distort the mortgage rate. This way of subsidizing bank profits and increasing their capital bails out these institutions but avoids going to Congress for more money to do so. It follows the Fed's usual practice of protecting big banks instead of the public.
He states what many economists know:  Public perceptions are being manipulated by government intervention in and influence over a variety of markets.  The results (suppressed prices in this case) are not substantive and fundamental.  Rather, they postpone the day of reckoning.

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