"When misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns its back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe." … Frederic Bastiat

Evil talks about tolerance only when it’s weak. When it gains the upper hand, its vanity always requires the destruction of the good and the innocent, because the example of good and innocent lives is an ongoing witness against it. So it always has been. So it always will be. And America has no special immunity to becoming an enemy of its own founding beliefs about human freedom, human dignity, the limited power of the state, and the sovereignty of God. – Archbishop Chaput

Trader Dan's free work will soon be available at www.traderdan.biz

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fed's Balance Sheet not growing but not shrinking much either

Take a quick look at the chart below to get a sense of what is taking place as a result of the cessation of the Fed's QE2 program and the inception of its "Operation Twist".

Recall that Operation Twist is nothing more than a rolling over of maturing shorter term Treasury debt into longer term Treasury debt in a deliberate attempt by the Federal Reserve to manipulate the rate of interest on the longer end of the yield curve.

While I personally find the idea that a small group of individuals presumes to be able to determine the exact rate of interest to fine tune an economy and make in move in the direction of their choice to be repugnant, it is what it currently is. I believe this constant interference into the interest rate sector is causing more complications than it is supposedly curing. It was the lowering of interest rates down to 45 year old levels some while back that paved the way for all this malinvestment and contributed to the excess that we are all too sadly aware of by now.

The notion that the same people who were partly responsible for creating this mess are the saviors to rescue us from it is laughable for its stupidity.

That being said, the Street loves nothing more than a Fed-induced liquidity party. As you can see, during both episodes of Quantitative Easing, I and II, the S&P 500, which is an excellent proxy for the US stock markets as a whole, moved higher, nearly reaching levels that it had climbed to just prior to the bust of Lehman Brothers in mid-2008, which ushered in the credit crisis.

As long as the Fed was expanding its balance sheet, there were "Blue Skies - nothing but Blue Skies, do I see" ahead. When the FOMC pulled the plug on QE2 in June of this year, down went the S&P, and it has not yet been able to recover from that cold turkey withdrawal of Billions in liquidity.

What the Fed is now doing with its Operation Twist is not expanding its Balance Sheet but is rather rolling over some of the maturing shorter term debt into longer term Treasuries. The effect has been to basically keep the Treasury portion of their Balance Sheet from not shrinking but also from not expanding. As their Balance Sheet flatlines, the broader stock markets are buckling under the weight of the rotten economy and global slowdown that is now taking hold.

Given the current conditions, it is difficult to gauge what might be a driving factor that would take the S&P anywhere near back to its recent peak just below 1400. Without another injection boost of liquidity, the best that the market could hope for is a period of sideways movement.


  1. Yes, thank you for your cool, calm dissection of complicated issues and chart trends.

    I listen to you every week on the Metals Wrap, too.

    Your generous work helping us understand what's going on is MUCH APPRECIATED!!

  2. Thank you for your analysis.
    I just wonder why Operation Twist does not push the TLT on the upside. Can we believe it's temporary or is it going to last ?
    Are markets betting on a new action from the Fed in November ?

  3. Grande Dan! Un saluto dall'Italia.. prima che venga inghiottita dal mare..


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