Today's news conference with Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke, seems to have left the markets as uncertain as ever about the prospect of further quantitative easing. Gold too seems wary as the Chairman delivered a Fed update on the state of the economy and its reported recovery.
Highlighting Bernanke's comments today were those regarding the Fed's latest assessment of inflation, GDP growth and unemployment. Essentially, he said, take whatever I said in April and, Fagettabotit. Things ain't so good no more.
In April, against a backdrop of data said to support the theory of slow but positive economic growth, the Fed spoke about quantitative easing in the context of being ready to act if necessary. That is ready but not yet willing. Subsequently, the markets took those comments and proceeded to fall.
Disappointment is clearly evidenced by the sharp decreases in the stock indexes since late April. By early June the Dow was off 1000 points while the S&P and NASDAQ followed suit. Only when weakening economic data came to the fore did the markets begin to rebound as hope for future QE was renewed.
Then he spoke again. Only this time comments were made against a backdrop of poor economic data. The inflation outlook dropped from 1.95% in April to 1.45% today. The GDP growth estimate was also revised lower from 2.65% to 2.15%. And, the ever controversial unemployment data forecast was also revised, projecting 8.1% by year-end up from 7.9%.
Hence, a token move was made by announcing an extension of the Twist and a renewed commitment to keep interest rates low, now into year 2014. When asked again about the potential for QE, the Chairman seemed less hesitant to offer assurance that the Fed is standing ready to engage in further asset purchases should the data continue to reflect weakening economic recovery.
As I see it, here is the major difference in the Fed's position today versus its position in April. When you preface your position of readiness with a positive report on the economy, you have just told the markets don't count on any more QE in the near future. When you preface comments of readiness with negative economic data, you just sent a strong signal that you are now not only ready, but willing as well.
The question that looms now is, will the Fed's token move, be enough to reverse the course of our weakening economy? The markets don't seem very convinced as they bounced like a super ball after the news conference. I suspect, the markets will come to realize it's not enough. For six months now it hasn't been enough, why would it be now?
I believe the Fed already knows it won't be enough. In my opinion the perfect stage has been set for more easing. Low inflation, falling GDP growth and rising unemployment. As the economy slows, incomes shrink and tax revenues fall. It all adds up to higher budget deficits and skyrocketing debt.
Did the light bulb suddenly go off? If you print more money debt rises. If you don't print money, debt rises. Such is the rock and hard place between which the Fed sits. In the past, the Fed has always chosen the path of printing money thus preserving the ability to say, we did everything we could. If they do nothing, there is no defense. Ultimately, the Fed has to print more money. The question is, when?
The only question left for each of us to deal with is then, where do you want your money when printing presses again begin to roll? Since the crisis struck Gold prices have doubled. The markets have not! If you have been holding gold in your savings or retirements or in a gold IRA, you have come to know the power of gold to protect and grow your savings in perilous times.
If you believe more money printing is headed our way, you have to believe gold is poised for another move higher. Are you ready to take advantage?