The Fed Can’t Do What It Must

Karl Denninger sees the proximate problem, but not the structural impediment to solving it:

Either Hike 200bps Today and 100 Each Mtg Until PPI Cools. or watch the economy literally burn to the ground.

At the same time all inhibitions on energy production here in the US must be lifted immediately. All of them. All coal plants shut down but still operational and those intended to be retired must have those orders rescinded immediately. Further, all refined product exports must be banned.

If you didn’t get the hint from WalMart and Target’s earnings announcements you’re deaf, blind, stupid and might be starving and homeless within months. Fuel prices continue to ramp, in no small part not because of oil but because we’re exporting products to other nations, specifically Europe. This must end now.

There is no instant solution but if we do not put a stop to the transportation cost and fertilizer problems now by this fall and winter the lower 50% of the economic strata in this nation will be hard-pressed to both feed their families and heat their homes. That is the combination that leads to riots and worse. Witness Sri Lanka where its already happening and politician homes are being set on fire.

Stocks? Who cares. The entire ramp from roughly 2011 onward likely will and should come back off. If you believed that said price advances of roughly a triple over that period of time were reasonable you’re nuts. If you predicated your future or present on it there’s nothing we can do to help you at this point; you ridiculously overpromised to yourself and overspent behind that.

Ditto for real estate. There’s nothing to be done other than let prices go back to where they should be. They will, by the way.

The Fed absolutely should be raising interest rates and raising them very steeply. The last time the USA saw this sort of inflation, it was the 1970s and interest rates went as high as 20 percent. However, there was considerably less debt then, and both consumers and corporations were able to service the debt payments even at those higher rates because the prices were so much lower.

Now that debt-consumption has raised prices by artificially stimulating demand, consumers can’t even make their payments on very low, historically low, interest rates. The level of defaults would be astronomical, and would essentially amount to a debt jubilee that would utterly destroy every single federally-regulated financial institution in the country. So, the Fed cannot, and will not, do what the laws of economics require of it.

My expectation is that there will either be some sort of federalization of the entire US economy, possibly on a neo-global scale that includes the NATO countries, or a recurrent series of defaults in which rates are raised slightly, allowing the weakest institutions to fail first in the hopes that the stronger institutions can survive on the strength of the assets previously held by the failing ones.

Neither option will work, of course, but the Fed has successfully kicked the can down the road for more than a decade already, so perhaps they might be able to buy themselves another year or three.