The Perils of Bubbles and Speculative Finance

by Doug Noland

October 26, 2012
 


 


Let’s return this week to the broader global Macro Credit Thesis. First of all, we live in a highly over-indebted world that becomes only more so each year. Moreover, the global system is today in an exceptionally high-risk phase of rapid non-productive debt growth in concert with historic financial and economic imbalances. Global policymakers are desperate to reflate debt and economic structures, in what I believe is both ill-advised and inevitably destined for failure. And there is the issue of history’s greatest financial mania




  
The Greek debt crisis was the first crack in the global government debt Bubble. For the past two years, I’ve drawn various parallels between Greece and the subprime eruption here in the U.S. In both cases, the marginal borrower in respective Bubbles lost access to cheap market-based finance. The sovereign debt crisis in Europe set in motion dynamics that would see the crisis methodically gravitate from the “periphery” to the “core,” while U.S. mortgage finance saw the surge in subprime defaults migrate to a broader base of “primeborrowers. And, of course, along the way there were aggressive policy responses. I have argued that, at the end of the day, the policy responses in ’07 and ‘08 contributed to the seriousness of the late-2008 financial and economic dislocation.





Taking a step back, I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised by the prolonged nature of the unfolding European/global crisis. After living though the severity of a chaotic 2008, global policymakers have been determined to react more quickly and forcefully. Especially in Europe, this has bought time and ensured that respective boom and bust dynamics drag on. Three years ago, Greece could borrow for two years at about 2.0%. The marketplace recognized that Greece had buried itself in debt, although players were as well confident that Europe would never allow a Greek default. By May of 2010, Greek two-year yields surpassed 18% and the nation was hopelessly insolvent. Two and one-half years later, Greece (population 11 million) has burned through two bailouts – and more than $200bn – and is today trapped in depression and desperate for additional bailout support. It seems inevitable that Greece will exit the euro. Yet, and especially after the European crisis began spiraling out of control this summer, the marketplace is confident that European officials remain determined to postpone all days of reckoning



 
When the subprime crisis erupted in the spring of 2007, it marked an end to an era. The ultra-easy mortgage Credit that had fueled a buying, building, spending and price Bubble throughout housing and the broader U.S. economy was coming to a conclusion – although, somehow, very few appreciated this at the time. Still, the hedge funds and others did recognize that they had to reduce exposures to high-riskprivate-labelmortgage-backed securities (MBS). And after the flow of finance into the riskiest mortgage-related securities and derivatives reversed, some speculators even moved to take short positions




 
The resulting dramatic tightening of financial conditions at the “periphery” (i.e. subprime) then began to wear away at confidence in somewhat less risky mortgages (i.e. “Alt-A”). And as the marginal homebuyer lost access to mortgage Credit, inflated home prices reversed and headed lower. Declining home prices then began to weigh on confidence in mortgage finance more generally, which led to a further tightening of mortgage Credit. This added pressure on leveraged holders of mortgage instruments, while further pressuring real estate values and market confidence. And as the nation’s housing markets began to buckle, the marketplace increasingly feared the financial and economic consequence of a major downturn. In the fourth quarter of 2008, a crisis of confidence finally erupted at the “core” due to unmanageable problem debt and related system leverage. Faith that policymakers could keep things under control was shattered. Europe has been on a similar track.






Importantly, stimulus measures by the Federal Reserve failed to stem the debt crisis failed to stop the crisis of confidence from gravitating from the “periphery” to the “core.” The Bubble was creating an ever increasing amount of suspect Credit, problem loans and related excess that would surface come the inevitable bursting. Indeed, I would argue that by prolonging the mortgage finance Bubble (in terms of lending, leveraged speculation and economic maladjustment) Federal Reserve policymaking ensured a more problematic scenario. The system would have been more resilient had the markets begun discounting the significantly changed post-Bubble backdrop in the initial months of 2007 (better yet, much earlier). Instead, increasingly speculative markets became fixated on predictable policy responses. Stock and global risk market prices fatefully diverged from fundamental (post-Bubble) prospects. The S&P500 traded to a record 1,575 in October of 2007heading right into the worst crisis in decades.






I am convinced actually, at this point, it seems rather obvious - that global policymakers have made a very problematic situation worse. The global system would be less vulnerable today had speculative markets not again fixated on aggressive policy measures. I argued at the time that the ECB’s Long-Term Refinancing Operations (LTRO) only exacerbated European fragilities.







In particular, the $1.3 TN of central bank liquidity ensured that Spanish, Italian and other European banks increased their exposure to suspect sovereign debt. It was a policy roll of the dice. The LTROs did incite big rallies in European debt and equities, along with global risk markets more generally. Not unpredictably, within months Europe was succumbing to an even deeper crisis. Global markets and economies were hanging in the balance.





In desperation, ECB president Draghi fashioned his “big bazooka:” Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) – the promise of open-ended support for Spain and other troubled issuers. Importantly, Mr. Draghi made an extraordinary warning to those that had positioned bearishly against Europe. And while the jury is very much out on whether Draghi has much of a bazooka, this somewhat misses the point. The Draghi Plan incited a major short-covering rally in Spain, Italy and periphery bonds, in European equities, and global risk markets more generally. Indeed, the Draghi Plan forced the sophisticated speculators to cover their European shorts and even go leveraged long. Instead of a roll of the dice, it was betting the ranch.





The consensus view has Europe now moving beyond the worst of its crisis. Debt auctions have been going smoothly. Spain and Italy in particular have issued huge amounts of debt, now having satisfied much of their 2012 borrowing requirements. At least on the surface, the situation appears to have significantly stabilized over the past few months. Unfortunately, I believe this optimism has highly fragile underpinnings.
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Many believed that the worst of the mortgage crisis had passed by April 2008. The Fed had orchestrated JP Morgan’s takeover of failing Bear Stearns. Clearly, most believed at the time, the Fed was sufficiently on the case and would not allow a further crisis escalation. The reality, however, was that altered financial and economic backdrops were quickly moving beyond the Fed’s control. 




 
These days, the European economic backdrop seems to deteriorate by the week. Importantly, the Draghi Plan and bullish market reactions have not translated to the real economy. Indeed, the bursting Bubble periphery to coredynamic has actually gained momentum. I posited earlier in the year that there were broad ramifications for the crisis having afflicted corecountry Spain. The Spanish economy is significant, and its economic depression is now increasingly reverberating throughout the region. Importantly, fellowcoreeconomies in Italy, France and Germany are today showing ill-effects.





The Italian economy is weak and the German juggernaut is weakening. Yet I am most closely watching happenings in France. France’s October manufacturing PMI index was reported at a weak 43.5, confirming that September’s 3.3 point decline was no fluke. ECB monthly lending data released earlier in the week offered no encouragement. Lending to French corporations showed another marked decline, from 1.5% annualized to only 0.6% for the month. Lending was still at a 3% annualized rate back in April. Lending to households declined to 2.7% annualized in September (down from 4.2% back in May). 




 
I have expected heightened attention directed at France’s deteriorating economic fundamentals, along with closer scrutiny of French financial institutions. Thursday, Standard & Poor’s downgraded many of France’s major banks, including its largest lender (financial conglomerate), BNP Paribas. From Bloomberg: “France’s 13-year-high unemployment rate, government debt approaching 90% of gross domestic product and trade deficits ‘are being aggravated in our view by the on-going euro-zone crisis, a more protracted recession across Europe, and lower domestic-growth prospects,’ S&P said. French banks also facepotentially limited, but still noteworthy, impact from an ongoing correction in the housing market,’ it said.”
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The bloated French banks are heavily exposed to myriad risks (regional sovereigns, corporate, mortgage, capital markets, emerging markets, etc). I’ll also be rather surprised if, before all is said and done, the housing correction has only a “limited impact.” Indeed, the aggressive European policy responses over recent years have inflated home prices in France, Germany and throughout the northern nations perceived by the marketplace as safe havens from the crisis at the periphery. It’s a similar dynamic to when Fed policy responses to “peripherymortgage problems actually lowered yields and extended the life of the “coreagency MBS Bubble. In Europe, safe haven inflows have worked to extendcorecountry booms. But with thesecoreeconomies now succumbing, there will be only deeper concern for the soundness of Europe’s major financial institutions.
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The Draghi Plan is risky business. The speculator community was enticed back into European debt and equities markets, and in the process the euro. But how stable is this finance? Are the speculators true believers or policy opportunists? Investors in Spanish and Italian debt were willing to buy, knowing that these high-yielding markets were backstopped by the Draghi ECB.
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These markets became a magnet for trading-oriented fund managers looking for immediate performance. And as markets rallied, the perception took hold that the worst of the crisis had passed. Global speculators and investors jumped on the bandwagon, believing that more normalized financial conditions would spur a self-reinforcing economic recovery. In a world of intense investment performance pressure, performance-chasing and trend-following trading strategies ensured large technically driven flows into the region.
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It’s going to be an interesting couple months. There’s an election approaching that could have major market ramifications. Perhaps “fiscal cliffworries can be pushed out to 2013. But this hedge fund, performance-chasing and trend-following market dynamic really has me intrigued.
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This week again seemed to provide evidence that at least some traders have one eye fixed on the exits. Spain 10-year yields were up 22 bps and Italian 10-year yields rose 13 bps. Portuguese yields surged 47 bps. Spain Credit default swap prices surged 31 bps. The French to German 10-year bond spread widened 10 bps. European stocks were hit, with the German DAX and French CAC 40 both down 2.0%. It is also worth noting the weakness in commodities prices.
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This week saw notable declines in industrial-related commodities, including tin, nickel, lead, zinc, copper, palladium, and platinumnot to mention the slide in energy prices.



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There are literally thousands of hedge funds these days fighting for survival. They cannot afford to miss a rally. But they also can’t tolerate significant losses. Everything is on a short leash. There are also thousands of mutual fund managers and other investors that will buy on strength or sell on weakness. It has become a highly speculative and unsettled backdrop. Meanwhile, markets have traded north as fundamentals have headed south.
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It all becomes even more interesting when one ponders the credibility of Draghi’s OMT. How big, really, is that bazooka of his? How much firepower does the ECB actually have when the Bundesbank is opposed to the whole thing? Is it even legal? And how big does it have to be if the markets start to fret about France? Would the OMT lose credibility if the marketplace begins to fear a significant economic downturn and bank problems in France and Germany?
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Or does the market stick with the view that the more dire the situation the more Draghi and European politicians can be counted on to “do whatever it takes.” They can hold it together through year-end, can’t they?
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Well, it’s shaping up to be quite a confidence game. But it’s those weak-handed hedge funds. Do they hold tight - or do some decide it might be best to be first in line before the crowd rushes for the exits?



Hoisington Quarterly Review and Outlook


John Mauldin

 Oct 20, 2012





The Hoisington Quarterly Review and Outlook is one of the cornerstones of my reading on where the economy is headed. Van Hoisington and Lacy Hunt do a masterful job of turning data points into cogent, well-argued themes.




This month they waste no time in dissecting the Fed’s recent move to QE3 and similar efforts in Europe, arriving at the conclusion that “While prices for risk assets have improved, governments have not been able to address underlying debt imbalances. Thus, nothing suggests that these latest actions do anything to change the extreme over-indebtedness of major global economies.”
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Their expectation: global recession. The only issue left to sort out, they say, is How deep will the downturn be?
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They make the interesting observation that with each injection of liquidity by the Fed, commodity prices have surged: “During QE1 & QE2 wholesale gasoline prices jumped 30% and 37%, respectively, and the Goldman Sachs Commodity Food Index (GSCI-Food) rose 7% and 22%, respectively. From the time the press reported that the Fed was moving toward QE3, both gasoline and the GSCI Food index jumped by 19%, through the end of the 3rd quarter.”




The QE picture gets even muddier. The unintended consequence of the Fed’s actions, say Lacy and Van, has been to actually slow economic activity: “The CPI rose significantly in QE1 and QE2 (Chart 1). These price increases had a devastating effect on worker's incomes (Chart 2). Wages did not immediately respond to commodity price changes; therefore, there was an approximate 3% decline in real average hourly earnings in both instances. It is true that stock prices also rose along with commodity prices (S&P plus 36% and 24%, respectively, in QE1 and QE2). However, median households hold a small portion of equities, and thus received minimal wealth benefit.”
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They proceed to tear apart the wealth effect that the Fed is banking on to restimulate the economy, drawing on several solid studies. They also make the key point that “When the Fed actions lead to higher food and fuel prices, the shock wave reverberates around the world, with many foreign economies being hit adversely. When prices of basic necessities rise, the greatest burden is on those with the lowest incomes since more of their budget is allocated to the basic necessities such as food and fuel.”
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The next few years are not going to be pretty. We’re looking right into the teeth of a rolling global deleveraging recession—the End Game, I’ve called it. And the decisions we make in the next couple years about how to handle our debts and budget deficits—here in the U.S., in Europe, in China and Japan, and elsewhere—are going to be absolutely crucial.
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Hoisington Investment Management Company (www.hoisingtonmgt.com) is a registered investment advisor specializing in fixed-income portfolios for large institutional clients. Located in Austin, Texas, the firm has over $4 billion under management, composed of corporate and public funds, foundations, endowments, Taft-Hartley funds, and insurance companies.
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Your bullish on the future but bearish on governments analyst,



John Mauldin, Editor

Outside the Box




Hoisington Investment Management

Quarterly Review and Outlook

Third Quarter 2012





Growth Recession
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Entering the final quarter of the year, domestic and global economic conditions are extremely fragile. Across the globe, countries are in outright recession, and in some instances where aggregate growth is holding above the zero line, manufacturing sectors are contracting. The only issue left to determine is the degree of the downturn underway. International trade is declining, so weaknesses in different parts of the world are reinforcing domestic deteriorations in economies continents away. With this global slump at hand, a highly relevant question is whether the U.S. can escape a severe recession in light of the following:


a) the U.S. manufacturing sector that paced domestic economic growth over the past three years has lapsed into recession;



b) real income and the personal saving rate have been slumping in the face of an interim upturn in inflation, and



c) aggregate over-indebtedness, which is the dominant negative force in the economy, has continued to move upward in concert with flagging economic activity.
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New government initiatives have been announced, particularly by central banks, in an attempt to counteract deteriorating economic conditions. These latest programs in the U.S. and Europe are similar to previous efforts. While prices for risk assets have improved, governments have not been able to address underlying debt imbalances. Thus, nothing suggests that these latest actions do anything to change the extreme over-indebtedness of major global economies.
 



To avoid recession in the U.S., the Federal Reserve embarked on open-ended quantitative easing (QE3). Importantly, the enactment of QE3 is a tacit admission by the Fed that earlier efforts failed, but this action will also fail to bring about stronger economic growth.




Commodity Market Reactions




Commodity markets have risen in reaction to the Federal Reserve’s liquidity injections into the banking sector (Table 1). From the time the press reported that the Fed was moving toward QE1 & QE2 commodity prices surged. During QE1 & QE2 wholesale gasoline prices jumped 30% and 37%, respectively, and the Goldman Sachs Commodity Food Index (GSCI-Food) rose 7% and 22%, respectively. From the time the press reported that the Fed was moving toward QE3, both gasoline and the GSCI Food index jumped by 19%, through the end of the 3rd quarter.
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Two theoretical considerations account for the rise in commodity prices during QE3. The first is the expectations effect. When the Fed says they want higher inflation, the initial reaction of the markets is to “go with”, rather than fight the Fed. The second linkage, which is the expanded availability of funds used for collateral (margin), was identified and subsequently confirmed by Newedge economist, Dr. Rod McKnew, who stated, “In a world of advanced derivatives, high cash balances are not required to take speculative positions. All that is required is that margin requirements be satisfied.” Thus, when the Fed massively expanded reserve balances in QE1 and QE2, margin risk was minimized for those market participants who wished to take positions consistent with the Fed’s goal of higher inflation, and who had either direct or indirect access to the Fed’s hugely inflated reserve balances. The Apr il 22, 2011 issue of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer documented support for McKnew’s insight. They asked Darrell Duffie, the Dean Witter Distinguished Professor of Finance at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, whether excess reserves could serve as collateral for futures and derivatives transactions. Dr. Duffie’s answer was “acceptable collateral is a matter of private contract, but reserve deposits are virtually always acceptable.”




Devastation for Households




The unintended consequence of these Federal Reserve actions, however, is to actually slow economic activity. The CPI rose significantly in QE1 and QE2 (Chart 1). These price increases had a devastating effect on worker's incomes (Chart 2). Wages did not immediately respond to commodity price changes; therefore, there was an approximate 3% decline in real average hourly earnings in both instances. It is true that stock prices also rose along with commodity prices (S&P plus 36% and 24%, respectively, in QE1 and QE2). However, median households hold a small portion of equities, and thus received minimal wealth benefit.





Wealth Effect
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Despite the miserable economic results in QE1 and QE2, we now have QE3. Fed Chair Ben Bernanke and other Fed advocates believe the “wealth effect” of QE3 will bring life to the economy.
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The economics profession has explored this issue in detail. Sydney Ludvigson and Charles Steindel in How Important is the Stock Market Effect on Consumption in the FRBNY Economic Policy Review, July 1999 write: “We find, as expected, a positive connection between aggregate wealth changes and aggregate spending. Spending growth in recent years has surely been augmented by market gains, but the effect is found to be rather unstable and hard to pin down. The contemporaneous response of consumption growth to an unexpected change in wealth is uncertain, and the response appears very short-lived.” More recently, David Backus, economic professor at New York University found that the wealth effect is not observable, at least for changes in home or equity wealth.
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A 2011 study in Applied Economic Letters entitled, Financial Wealth Effect: Evidence from Threshold Estimation by Sherif Khalifa, Ousmane Seck and Elwin Tobing found “a threshold income level of almost $130,000, below which the financial wealth effect is insignificant, and above which the effect is 0.004.” This means a $1 rise in wealth would, in time, boost consumption by less than one-half penny.
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These three studies show that the impact of wealth on spending is miniscule—indeed, “nearly not observable.” How the Fed expects the U.S. to gain any economic traction from higher stock prices when rising commodity prices are curtailing real income and spending is puzzling. This is particularly relevant when econometricians have estimated that for every dollar of gained real income, consumption will rise by about 70 cents. Conversely, the Fed actions are causing real incomes to decline, which has a 70-cent negative impact on spending for every dollar loss. Compare that with the 0.004 positive impact on spending for every one-dollar increase in wealth. Former Fed Chairman, Paul Volcker, summarized the new Fed initiative as sufficiently and succinctly as anyone when he stated that another round of QE3 “is understandable, but it will fail to fix the problem.”




An International Corollary




The unintended consequences of QE3 could also serve to worsen and undermine global economic conditions already under considerable duress. When the Fed actions lead to higher food and fuel prices, the shock wave reverberates around the world, with many foreign economies being hit adversely. When prices of basic necessities rise, the greatest burden is on those with the lowest incomes since more of their budget is allocated to the basic necessities such as food and fuel. Thus, a jump in daily essentials has a more profound negative impact on living standards in economies with lower levels of real per capita income.




Can the Fed Create Demand?




Can all the trillions of dollars of reserves being added to the banking system move the economy forward enough to eventually create a higher level of aggregate spending? Our analysis of the aggregate demand curve and its determinants indicate they cannot. The question is whether monetary actions can shift this aggregate demand (AD) curve out to the right from AD0 to AD1 (Chart 3). If this were possible, then indeed the economy would shift to a higher level of prices and real GDP.
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The AD curve is equal to planned expenditures for nominal GDP since every point on the curve is equal to the aggregate price level (measured on the vertical axis of the graph), multiplied by real GDP (measured on the horizontal axis of the graph). We know that GDP is equal to money times its turnover or velocity, which is called the equation of exchange as developed by Irving Fisher (Nominal GDP = M*V).
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Deconstructing this formula, M (or M2) is comprised of the monetary base (currency plus reserves) times the money multiplier (m). The Federal Reserve has control over the monetary base since its balance sheet is the dominant component of the monetary base. However, the Fed does not directly control the money supply. The decisions of the depository institutions and the non-bank public determine the money multiplier (m). M2 thus equals the monetary base multiplied by the money multiplier. The monetary base, also referred to as high powered money, has exploded from $800 billion in 2008, to $2.6 trillion currently, but the money multiplier has collapsed from 9.3 to 3.9 (Chart 4). Therefore, the money supply has risen significantly less than the increase in the Fed’s balance sheet, with the result that neither rapid gains in real GDP nor inflation were achieved. Indeed, with the exception of transitory episodes, inflation re mains subdued and the gain in GDP in the three years of this expansion was the worst of any recovery period since World War II.
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The other element that is required for the Fed to shift the aggregate demand curve outward is the velocity or turnover of money over which they also have no control. During all of the Fed actions since 2008 the velocity of money has plummeted and now stands at a five decade low (Chart 5).
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The consequence of the Fed’s lack of control over the money multiplier and velocity is apparent. The monetary base has surged 3.3 times in size since QE1. Nominal GDP, however, has grown only at an annual rate of 3%. This suggests they have not been able to shift the aggregate demand curve outward. Nor, with these constraints, will they be any more successful in shifting that curve under the present open-ended QE3. Increased aggregate demand and thus rising inflation is not on the horizon.


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[For a more complete discussion of the complexities of the movement of the aggregate supply and aggregate demand curves please see the APPENDIX.]




Treasury Bonds




As commodity prices rose initially in all the QE programs, long-term Treasury bond yields also increased. However, those higher yields eventually reversed and generally continued to ratchet downward, reaching near record lows. The current Fed actions may be politically necessary due to numerous demands for them to act to improve the clearly depressed state of economic conditions.





However, these policies will prove to be unproductive. Economic fundamentals will not improve until the extreme over-indebtedness of the U.S. economy is addressed, and this is in the realm of fiscal, not monetary policy. It would be more beneficial for the Fed to sit on the sidelines and try to put pressure on the fiscal authorities to take badly needed actions rather than do additional harm. Until the excessive debt issues are addressed, the multi-year trend in inflation, and thus the long Treasury bond yields will remain downward.





APPENDIX
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One of the most important concepts in macroeconomics is aggregate demand (AD) and aggregate supply (AS) analysis – a highly attractive approach that is neither Keynesian, monetarist, Austrian, nor any other individual school, but can be used to illustrate all of their main propositions. However, before detailing the broader macroeconomics associated with the movement of the AD and AS curves, it is important to understand microeconomic supply and demand curves. This can best be illustrated through the recent impact the Fed’s decisions had on commodity prices. In the commodity market, like individual markets in general, the demand curve is downward sloping, the supply curve is upward sloping, and where they intersect determines the price of the commodity and the quantity supplied/demanded. The micro-demand curve slopes downward because as the price of an item rises, the quantity demanded falls due to income and substitution effects ( buyers can shift to a substitute product). The micro-supply curve slopes upward since producers will sell more at higher prices than lower ones.





Both supply and demand schedules are influenced by expectation, fundamental, and liquidity considerations. When the Fed says that they want faster inflation and that they are going to take steps to achieve this objective, both economic theory and historical experiences indicate that commodity prices will rise, at least transitorily (as seen with the surge in commodity prices after the announcement of QE1, QE2 and QE3). Information and liquidity available to the buyers is also available to the suppliers, so by saying faster inflation is ahead, suppliers are encouraged to reduce or withhold current production or inventories, moving the supply curve inward.



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Thus, in the commodity market, the Fed action spurs an outward shift in the micro-demand curve along with an inward shift of the micro-supply curve, producing higher prices and lower quantities. These microeconomic developments transmit to the broader economy, which we will now trace through A D and AS curves.
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The AD curve slopes downward and indicates the amount of real GDP that would be purchased at each aggregate price level (Chart 6). Aggregate demand varies inversely with the price level, so if the price level moves upward from P0 to P1, real GDP declines from Y0 to Y1. When the price level rises, real wages, real money balances and net exports worsen, thereby reducing real GDP. The rationale for the downward sloping AD curve is thus quite different from the sloping of the micro-demand curve since substitution effects are not possible when dealing with aggregate prices. In order to improve real GDP with a rising price level, the AD curve would need to be shifted outward and to the right (from AD0 to AD1). And as detailed in the letter, the Fed is not capable of shifting the entire AD curve.




The AS curve slopes upward and indicates the quantity of GDP supplied at various price levels. The positive correlation between price and output in micro and macroeconomics is the same since the AS curve is the sum of all supply curves across all individual markets. When Fed policy announcements shock commodity markets, the AS curve shifts inward and to the left (from AS0 to AS1). This immediately causes a reduction in real GDP (the difference between Y0 and Y1) as the price increases by the difference between P0 and P1 (also Chart 6). Furthermore, as discussed in the letter, lower GDP as a result of higher prices reduces the demand for labor and widens the output gap, setting in motion a negative spiral.


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For Fed policy to improve real GDP, actions must be taken that either (1) shift the entire demand curve outward (to the right), or (2) do not cause an inward shift of the AS curve that induces an adverse movement along the AD curve. Accordingly, the Fed is without options to improve the pace of economic activity.