Thursday, May 24, 2012

Adjusted Monetary Base - May 24, 2012

You can view a short-term chart of the adjusted monetary base here:
http://research.stlouisfed.org/publications/usfd/page3.pdf

You can view a longer term chart for a broader view here:
http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/BASE/

You can view a chart of the excess reserves held by commercial banks here:
http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?chart_type=line&width=800&height=480&preserve_ratio=true&s[1][id]=EXCRESNS

The increase in excess reserves has closely mimicked the increase in the monetary base since the fall of 2008.  I have seen little to indicate a change in this scenario.  This means that the creation of new money by the Fed has gone into excess reserves at banks.  It is not being lent out.  This is helping to keep a lid on price inflation.

The Fed has not really inflated since the end of QE2.  It is hard to believe, but it is almost 11 months since QE2 ended at the end of June of 2011.  The monetary base is actually slightly lower from that point.

The Fed is keeping its powder dry for right now.  It is walking on a tightrope and it doesn't want to lean too far in one direction.  It does not want to trigger severe price inflation and it also doesn't want the economy to fall off a cliff.  Eventually, I see it falling one way or the other.

I am guessing there will eventually be a QE3, but not until the economy gets visibly worse.  It is hard to read the minds of central bankers, but I don't see them sitting on their hands if price inflation is relatively low and the economy is falling off a cliff.

We will continue to watch the adjusted monetary base to see if the Fed is doing what it is saying.  So far this year, the Fed has not been doing much.  Hopefully that will last, but I wouldn't bet on it.

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