Lacy Hunt and Van Hoisington launch into their first-quarter "Review and Outlook," this week's Outside the Box, with a statement that some may find eye-opening: "The Federal Reserve (Fed) is not, and has not been, 'printing money'…" But given the facts of life about how money is really created (and destroyed), they are of course right: it's all about the acceleration – or deceleration – in the M2 money supply.
But there are deeper currents here. For, as Van and Lacy say, "A review of post-war economic history would lead to a logical assumption that the money supply (M2) would respond upward to [the Fed's] massive infusion of reserves into the banking system. And yet, the Fed's 3.5x expansion of the monetary base over the past five years has only grown M2 by 35%, and year-over-year growth through March, 2013, was less than 7%. "In other words," say our authors, "there is no evidence that the massive security purchases by the Fed have resulted in a sustained acceleration in monetary growth; nor is there evidence that economic conditions have improved."
So what is wrong with this picture? Well, it turns out that not only can the Fed not control the money supply, it can't control the velocity of money either. And that means the Fed can't create rising aggregate demand. As in, Ben's shooting blanks.
To help us get our heads around this fundamental realization, Van and Lacy lead us deeper into the gooey cytoplasm of Federal Reserve genetics; but the bottom line, as Prof. Irving Fisher taught us, is that GDP = MV. That is, nominal GDP equals money times its turnover (velocity). And don't look now, but velocity is the lowest it's been in six decades.
The upshot (downshot?) is that the decade just past saw a growth rate worse than any in US history, except the 1930s. We already knew that, but it's good to have estimable gentlemen like Messrs. Hunt and Hoisington bring us the numbers and solid analysis to back up the surprising statements we find ourselves forced to make about this oh-so-Muddle Through Economy.
Hoisington Investment Management Company (www.Hoisingtonmgt.com) is a registered investment advisor specializing in fixed-income portfolios for large institutional clients. Located in Austin, Texas, the firm has over $5 billion under management and is the sub-adviser of the Wasatch-Hoisington U.S. Treasury Fund (WHOSX).
I am back in Dallas for a week and getting ready for my conference next week, preparing a brand-new presentation, working on books, looking through architectural plans, spending time with family, dealing with endless minutiae, and all the while trying to stay caught up with my reading. Life seems so much busier than a decade or so ago when I had seven kids at home and a growing business, was deeply involved in politics, and was limited to old-fashioned publications on paper as the sources for my research. I am not complaining, mind you, as I am having a marvelous time; I just wonder how I would have done back then what I do now.,
I am really looking forward to my conference next week. This will be our (Altegris and my) 10th conference. From the beginning I have always invited speakers I wanted to hear and who would challenge my thinking. This is about our best line-up ever, and I really would put it up against the roster of any conference anywhere. Most conferences have a few “headliners” and then other speakers, many of whom pay to sponsor and speak. We have nothing but headliners. My only regret is that we could not go for a couple more days and bring in a few more names.
I know some people look at our line-up of speakers and see mostly bears, but I think the attendees are in for a surprise. I am looking at PowerPoints and letters from the presenters, and the large majority of them are finding places to put capital to work. This dynamic is going to make for some lively debates at the conference. You can learn more at www.altegris.com/sic .
Two final thoughts. Given how much I travel it may be self-serving, but I find it inexcusable that the FAA would blame “sequestration” on the cutback in air-traffic controllers, etc. In a federal budget that large, they could find a few dollars to keep things rolling. That Congress would allow this without requiring prioritization funds is just one example – out of thousands – of the executive branch saying, “See, if you don’t give us money we will just inconvenience you,” all the while funding programs that we could well do without They might also take a look at cutting and rearranging budgets, as any normal business would do, to make sure that the important work for their customers gets done.
And finally, I have to apologize to my British friends. I am appalled that the current administration did not send a few officials to the funeral of Dame Margaret Thatcher. So much has been written about her that there is little I can add. I understand that some in the current administration might not agree with her policies, but an official acknowledgement of the “special relationship” that exists between Britain and the US would have seemed to require the presence of a representative from our government. That none were dispatched causes me to feel great shame for our country. Is this the way we treat our friends? It speaks volumes.
Have a great week. And are you paying attention to Italy? It seems that whom the gods would drive mad they first send to Italy to study politics.
Your needing to go back to Tuscany analyst,
John Mauldin, Editor
Outside the Box
Hoisington Investment Management – Quarterly Review and Outlook, First Quarter 2013
“The Federal Reserve is printing money”. No statement could be less truthful. The Federal Reserve (Fed) is not, and has not been, “printing money” as defined as an acceleration in M2 or money supply. Just check the facts. For the first quarter of 2013 the Fed purchased $277.5 billion in securities (net) as their security portfolio expanded from $2.660…