This week we look at the second half of my speech from a few weeks ago at my annual Strategic Investment Conference in La Jolla. If you have not read the first part, you can review it here. The first few paragraphs are a repeat from last week, to give us some context. Please note that this is somewhat edited from the original, and I have added a few ideas. You can also go there to sign up to get this letter sent to you free each week.
Okay, when you become a central banker, you are taken into a back room and they do a DNA change on you. You are henceforth and forever genetically incapable of allowing deflation on your watch. It becomes the first and foremost thought on your mind: deflation, we can't have it.
MV=PQ. This is an important equation, right up there with E=MC2. M (money or the supply of money) times V (velocity -- which is how fast the money goes through the system -- if you have seven kids it goes faster than if you have one) is equal to P (the price of money in terms of inflation or deflation) times Q (roughly standing for the Quantity of production, or GDP)
So what happens is, if we increase the supply of money and velocity stays the same, and if GDP does not grow, that means we'll have inflation, because this equation always balances. But if you reduce velocity (which is happening today) and if you don't increase the supply of money, you are going to see deflation. We are watching, for reasons we'll get into in a minute, the velocity of money slow. People are getting nervous, they are not borrowing as much, either because they can't or the animal spirits that Keynes talked about are not quite there.
To fight this deflation (which we saw in this week's Producer and Consumer Price Indexes) the Fed is going to print money. A few thoughts on that. The Fed has announced they intend to print $300 billion (quantitative easing, they call it). That is different than buying mortgages and securitized credit card debt -- that money (credit) already exists.
When they just print the money and buy Treasuries, as with the $300 billion…