It's official: Federal Reserve has no clue how to run the economy
Unfortunately, it won't stop them from trying.
The Federal Reserve is studying significant moves in the U.S. government bond market last week that could have big implications for the central bank's strategy to combat the country's recession.What's the right answer? I haven't the slightest idea. Which apparently means I'm qualified to work for the Fed.
But the Fed is not really sure what is driving the sharp rise in long-dated bond yields, and especially a widening gap between short and long term yields.
Do rising U.S. Treasury yields and a steepening yield curve suggest an economic recovery is more certain, meaning less need for safe haven government bonds and a healthy demand for credit? If so, there might be less need for the Fed to expand the money supply by buying more U.S. Treasuries.
Or does the steepening yield curve mean investors are worried about the deterioration in the U.S. fiscal outlook, or the potential for a collapse in the U.S. dollar as the Fed floods the world with newly minted currency as part of its quantitative easing program. This might be an argument to augment to step up asset purchases.
Another possibility is that China, the largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasury debt, has decided to refocus its portfolio by leaning more heavily on shorter-term maturities.
With officials still grappling to divine the factors steepening the yield curve, a speedy decision on whether to ramp up the Treasury debt purchase program or the related plan to snap up mortgage-related debt seems unlikely.
"I'm in wait-and-see mode," said one Fed official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "We laid out the asset purchase plan and we're following it. That is going to have some affect on various interest rates, but together with a hundred other things. So I don't think we should be chasing a long-term interest rate," the official said.
This is exactly why the Federal Reserve and the government shouldn't be trying to combat the recession. No one can understand the uncoordinated actions of billions of individuals, and when the Fed or government tries, it only makes things worse.