“The study of money, above all other fields . . .is one in which complexity is used to disguise truth or to evade truth, not to reveal it.” (John Kenneth Galbraith)
One would have thought that the budget crisis and government shutdown would be the ideal time for financially knowledgeable people in the press to explain, at least somewhat, the workings of the financial system and how that relates to the crisis. Alas, that is not the case, at least for the more popular press. I don’t read the Wall Street Journal, so maybe the financial press did.
One would have hoped that at least someone would have brought up Quantitative Easing and how that relates. For those not familiar with the particulars (I’m not all that knowledgeable), QE essentially involves the Fed buying $85 billion in US Treasuries per month with money it creates, then depositing these in the regional banks to act as deposits to be loaned out. That’s right, the main “investor” buying Treasuries is Ben Barnanke using money he has created. In other words, money the Federal Reserve has created turns up as Federal debt to be repaid. That is because the Fed is more or less privately owned and operated. If the Fed was a public utility, the money would simply be injected into the economy with no debt added to the national debt, hence, no debt ceiling problem. Theoretically, the Fed could do what Ron Paul once proposed and simply forgive the debt since it didn’t cost them anything to create the money to buy the bonds. Kind of like a de facto public bank.
Alas, two new problems arise. Since the purchased bonds form a significant part of member bank reserves, forgiving the debt would probably wipe out enough of the banking reserves to through the entire system into default. Actually, that is what Quantitative Easing was designed to prevent. The other problem is the market reaction to the sudden cessation of QE. Even Barnanke’s hint that he might taper off QE sometime soon caused a moderately severe reaction. A cold turkey cut off would cause the mother of all panics.
What to make of all of this? First of all, this created “crisis” is an excuse to further advance a vicious class war and cut citizen benefits while continuing to throw money at Wall Street. Second, if and when Wall Street is ready, it will lay down the law to Congress and the “crisis” will be resolved. Third, Wall Street may not want the crisis to be resolved. Sitting on a mountain of cash, Wall Street may decide that the time is right to intentionally crash the global economy, buy up everything they don’t already own, and transition the planet to global neo-feudalism, the ultimate goal. Why now? Wall Street has their hired lawyer in the White House, what better time?