Writing in the Business Illuminus paper published quarterly, maybe it’s time to get suited and booted before the whole shit house goes up in flames.
“Eighty-five billion – at best an unorthodox number to start a countdown, but perhaps the disruption of the time-honoured 10, 9, 8… was well overdue. Whatever the case, next month the US Federal Reserve is already expected to announce number thirty-five billion. In response to post-recession economic stagnation, each month of last year the Fed pumped $85 billion into the US economy via its quantitative easing (QE) program. In December the Fed cut its monthly asset purchases to $75 billion, and has been gradually tapering ever since. In fact by the end of the year we should get to zero – how very exciting – and then what? Well you don’t have to be prescient to know that there are only two possible outcomes:
“Outcome I – Over the summer, bankers decide to celebrate with some good old-fashioned frivolous lending, and why not? They are backed by a few trillion Dollars in QE generated reserves at the Fed. They remember the euphoria of lending, the unabated energy and the incredible confidence that it inspires. Banks go on a lending binge leveraging their Fed reserves. Suddenly there is so much money in the system that the Dollar is worthless. Hyperinflation sweeps through the nation, and the Dollar to Euro exchange rate settles at 4.2 trillion to one. Civil unrest forces a radical regime change, which spawns a global conflict, and finally results in World War III. Only the drones survive WWIII.
“Outcome II – The end of the year comes too soon taking liquidity with it. The Fed underestimates the weakness of the labour market, and overestimates economic growth. We hit zero, and dejectedly wave goodbye to QE. Money dries up, including welfare resources that are long gone. The lack of consumer spending causes businesses to slash wages of the fortunate few, and lay off the rest. Unemployment skyrockets to 27%, and the US becomes a nation of nomads traversing the country on rumours of jobs. The sanitation system breaks down precipitating the pervasive spread of a new disease. Those infected mutate into zombies with an insatiable hunger. Movie stars remain just that, no vaccine is discovered, and we finally have a zombie apocalypse.
“We can be so sure of one of these occurring because someone has to be right and someone has to be wrong. The great recession brought us much debate about economic policy – i.e, government intervention versus letting the free market take care of itself. So now the only redeeming factor about the end of the world is that we will finally know who was right. For a brief moment in time either the free market champions or the interventionists will enjoy incontrovertible validation. As the drone flies by the window free marketers can happily go into the light knowing the government helped too much. Alternatively interventionists can alleviate the pain of a zombie bite with the knowledge that the government didn’t help enough. Not a bad consolation prize.
“Speaking hypothetically now if by some chance the world does not end, the only thing we can be certain about is that each party will interpret any economic stability as a justification for its economic philosophy. Post QE the free market folks will aver that we would be in a much better position had the markets decided our fate, and the interventionists will boldly claim that with a bit more help we would be flying.
“With rumours of Chinese property bubbles, and the unrest in Ukraine as Russia eyes incursions further into Europe, the augurs do not bode well for a world economy addicted to fake money and consumers still drunk on credit. Are you prepared for the zombie apocalypse in a zombie global economy?
“If you have any money left now — start spending.”