Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Fed Basically Still Uses LTCM’s Financial Models

The models that LTCM was using the 1990’s were the same models that Wall Street was still using in the early 2000’s and, for that matter, the same models being used today. They are called ‘dynamic stochastic general equilibrium models’ and also risk management models like ‘value at risk’ or VaR models. They were the ones that we used in the 90’s and have continued to use for the last 16 years. They’re still being used now. They do not correspond with how markets actually work or to actual human behavior. They have failed in the past and they will fail again. If you have the wrong model, you will get the wrong policy and you will be negatively surprised by results every single time.

According to Greenspan, the Fed expanded its balance sheet not to boost the economy or to keep inflation moving higher. It was because the Federal government had such large expenditures that it would have ‘crowded out’ private borrowers if the Fed had not increased the size of its balance sheet. Do you think that’s true? Is the Fed directing the economy? Or just reacting to the capital demands of the US government?

I think both things are true. I think Greenspan is right that we are seeing monetization of debt. This is what Frederick Mishkin, the former member of the Federal Reserve board of governors refers to as ‘fiscal dominance.’ Yes, I think Greenspan is right about that but it’s also true that they’re trying to fulfill the dual mandate of price stability and creating jobs. As between the two, the Fed is willing to tolerate higher inflation if they can create more jobs. They don’t talk about ‘fiscal dominance’ and they don’t explicitly say they’re monetizing the debt. In fact they deny that they’re monetizing the debts.

Greenspan’s right. When the credit demands of the Federal government are that great, you either have to accommodate the demands or somebody is going to be crowded out. I think that the result would be deflationary. Governments cannot tolerate deflation. So rather than choose between stimulus from monetary ease and monetization of debt, I think that they are doing both.

- Source Jim Rickards, via Proactive Investor