John  Browne

The world was taken by surprise recently by the Federal Reserve Board's announcement that it would publish some of its economic forecasting that forms the basis for its short-term interest rate strategy. The Fed claims that the move will vastly increase so-called transparency, which has become a buzz word for honesty and virtue. However, the new policies do nothing to remove the cloak of secrecy that conceals still many of its most significant activities. This myth of new transparency will do little to lure investors back into the markets but as an unintended consequence will reveal just how profoundly the markets are currently guided from the top.

The Fed plays the markets like a football game, and Ben Bernanke is currently calling all the plays. Although investors are mere lineman in this struggle, there are things we can do to stay in the game. When tackling a ball carrier in football (or in the rugby played in my home country) it is best to ignore the movement's of your opponent's eyes or hands which can be used to obscure his true intentions. Instead, good coaches tell us to fixate on the runner's feet as the best indicator of his actual path down the field. Likewise, when looking at any political body, like the Fed, it is best to look at their actions and ignore their words.

Bernanke offers endless words about the Fed's willingness to keep the economy on track. In reality it appears as if he only wants to do one thing: keep asset bubbles from collapsing by continually debasing the currency and looting the savings of thrifty Americans.  Any other policy intentions should be considered misdirection.

The Fed was the enabler of the most massive asset and debt boom in history. Now, the unraveling of this profligacy threatens abject poverty for billions of people. Therefore, it is little wonder the Fed is unpopular and is seeking to retrieve its image. What is the reality of offering public access to Fed forecasts? Is it genuine transparency or is it done to add further weight to negative interest rates as a means of forcing consumers to spend rather than save?

In the past, the Fed has proved far from accurate in its economic forecasting. Indeed, former Fed Chairman Greenspan utterly failed to see the collapse of housing, banking and stock markets, all of which had been accurately forecasted by many others. Prudent investors are wary of Fed economic forecasts and give them guarded weight.


John Browne

John Browne is the Senior Market Strategist for Euro Pacific Capital, Inc.
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