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Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Oh, What a Lovely War!

The conventional wisdom to date has been that the downturn / recession / depression is nothing more than a re-run of the 1930's, and we just have to learn our lessons from history.

That now looks like wishful thinking. The more relevant comparison appears to be the trench warfare of the First World War. The next battallion of cannon fodder to be sent over the top by General Obama is $300 billion of newly printed cash to repurchase long dated (2 to 10 year) Treasuries with reinforcements due in the form of $750 billion to buy up mortgage backed securties issued by Fannia Mae and Freddie Mac.

I don't have the the exact figures, put to put the $300 billion now/$750 billion later in perspective, the total US M1 money supply (currency in circulation and demand deposits) is a tad under $1,600 billion, so the immediate impact is a near 20% increase in that figure.

The Federal Open Market Committee announced "In light of increasing economic slack here and abroad, the Committee expects that inflation will remain subdued. Moreover, the Committee sees some risk that inflation could persist for a time below rates that best foster economic growth and price stability in the longer term. In these circumstances, the Federal Reserve will employ all available tools to promote economic recovery and to preserve price stability."

Fix bayonets and prepare to charge.

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