I am in London finishing my new book, The End Game, which will be out after the first of the year, as soon as Wiley can make it happen. Working with my co-author, Jonathan Tepper, we are making good progress. We intend to quit (a book like this is never finished) tomorrow afternoon.
I am going to beg off from personally writing a letter this week, but will give you something even better. Dr. Lacy Hunt offers us a few cogent thoughts on the unemployment numbers. The headline establishment survey came in much better than expected, but the household survey was much weaker. In addition, Dr. John Hussman wrote a piece last week that I thought was one of his best, on liquidity traps and quantitative easing, and that’s included here, too. We are embarking on a course through uncharted waters. No one (including the Fed) has any idea what the unintended consequences will be.
I remarked a few weeks ago that the Fed is throwing an inflation party and not sure whether anyone will come. Last night at dinner, Albert Edwards of Societe Generale noted that not only do they not know whether anyone will come, they do not know what they will do if they do come, how much they will drink, or when they will leave.
My quick takeaway is the $600 billion is not all that much, and the buying is concentrated in the middle of the curve, where it is likely to do the least in terms of lowering rates (they are already low!), so also likely to do the least damage. Mohammed El-Erian thinks that if nothing happens the Fed will be forced to continue, which is a dangerous thing. I wonder whether they might just shrug their shoulders and say, “We tried, and now it is up to the fiscal side of the equation.” We shall see. It will be important to listen to the speeches of the Fed governors to get some idea.
Before we jump in, let me give you a few thoughts I am picking up in Europe. The yield spreads on Irish and Spanish bonds are blowing out even as we speak, as well as those on the rest of the periphery. While all eyes are on the Fed, the real action may be in Europe. We will visit that thought in the near future. Now, first to Lacy.