October 29, 2010
Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve are widely expected to embark on another round of "quantitative easing" next week.
In economic terms, this means they'll begin purchasing U.S. Treasury bonds in an attempt to drive down interest rates and inject liquidity into the financial system. In layman's terms, it means they're going to fire up the printing presses.
I can think of a few arguments for and against this.
For: Unemployment is nearly 10%. Job growth is flatlined. Money velocity is in the tank. Money multipliers are abysmal. The housing market is still weak. Income growth is weak. Target inflation rates (Fed's policy) are too low. Several areas of the economy appear far too weak and are in need of a boost. That's the boiled-down argument for quantitative easing.
Against: Real GDP is nearing an all-time high. Real consumer spending is at an all-time high. Corporate profits are at an all-time high. Corporate revenue is at an all-time high. The stock market is higher than it was during most of 2006. Many huge companies, including McDonald's (NYSE: MCD ) , Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN ) , and Apple (Nasdaq: APPL ) are at all-time highs. GDP growth (just out this morning) shows the economy growing at 2%, which is faster than much of the 2006-2007 period when the economy "was on fire." Even if the economy was falling off a cliff, have you seen the massive pile of excess reserves banks already hold?
Admittedly, I'm on the fence with quantitative easing. But I want to know what you think. Head down to the Fool poll below and weigh in. Toss a thought or two in the comments section while you're at it.
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Should the Federal Reserve embark on a new round of quantitative easing?