Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bernanke may be worried about Greenspan legacy!

According to various polls and forecasts U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is expected to announce scaling back the monetary stimulus in the FOMC meeting (17th &18th September). As per consensus Fed is expected to cut down its monthly bond buying program by $10 billion from present $85 billion (Fed is buying $45 billion government bonds and $40 billion mortgage securities per month to stimulate the economy).

When Bernanke spoke about tapering down of bond buying program first time in May, 2013 global markets reacted very sharply. U.S. bond yields soared, emerging countries’ bond, stock and currency markets sold off heavily and some counties' (Brazil and Indonesia) Central banks raised interest rates to prevent outflow.
Aftermath of the global markets volatility, analysts started discussing timing and quantity of Fed tapering, whether American economy produced enough employment, whether economy recovered from the crisis, if yes then is this recovery sustainable?

But Bernanke may not be worried about timing (September or December) of tapering or quantity of tapering but the way markets are expecting and perceiving the quantitative easing (QE)! He may be worried about QE boosting asset prices than real economy going ahead. He may be worried about market expectations of low interest rate for too long. He may be worried about continuing his policies in his name after his exit from Fed Chair in January 2014. He may be worried about how history is going to see him, the one who saved the world from the great recession or the one who lead the world from the great recession to one more crisis!

Alan Greenspan, Bernanke’s predecessor lowered American interest rates after dot com bubble burst and 9/11 attack. Analysts criticise him for leaving interest rates too low for too long time, which was one of the reason for housing boom during early 2000. By the time Greenspan left Fed Chair (January 2006) American economy was at the edge of new crisis. Housing prices skyrocketed and it was too late for regulation and monitoring the situation as complex derivatives products dragged investments banks, insurance companies, banks, broking firms and rating agencies into the sector leading to economic crisis. So critics say Greenspan lead America from one crisis to another crisis!

Bernanke, whose term is ending in January 2014, may not want to repeat the Greenspan legacy! He may want to communicate to markets that stimulus shouldn't be taken for granted. He may be suggesting real economy benefitted sufficiently from quantitative easing or monetary stimulus has reached its limits to boost the economy and beyond this there might be bubble formation! He may want to leave the office with a note to historians stating that he started it (QEs) but he also tried to end it!

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