Saturday, June 6, 2009

Mortgage rates, Fed spending, and that unfortunate law of unintended consequences....

... or, how spending $1.2 Trillion didn't quite have the result that the government was looking for:

NEW YORK (June 6) - The Federal Reserve announced a $1.2 trillion plan three months ago designed to push down mortgage rates and breathe life into the housing market.

But this and other big government spending programs are turning out to have the opposite effect. Rates for mortgages and U.S. Treasury debt are now marching higher as nervous bond investors fret about a resurgence of inflation.

That's the Catch-22 threatening to make an awful housing market potentially worse and keep the economy stuck in a funk. Kick-starting the economy requires higher spending, but rising rates mean fewer Americans will be able to refinance their home loans. And some potential buyers will be shut out of the market by higher monthly payments they won't be able to afford.

Which kind of makes you wonder--where'd all the money go, anyway?

Since the Federal Reserve is still immune to audit, I guess we'll never know.


Miko said...

I don't know; these consequences were so obvious I have trouble believing that they were unintended.

Note that this will tend to hamper efforts by the lower classes to save up capital (while the rich will simultaneously protect existing capital through inflation-hedged investments and collect agio from the newly-printed money they borrow at pre-inflation rates and pay back at post-inflation rates) both through higher costs for housing and staples and through the depreciation of savings, all of which will make unemployment a much more dangerous prospect, in turn leading to lower wages, nominally through the market forces of supply-and-demand but in fact from the debasement of the currency by legislative fiat.

While terrible for the overall economy, this will prove quite profitable for a select group of large business interests; coincidentally, there is a large intersection between this group and those who worked with the Fed to draft the policy that had these "unintended" consequences.

Anonymous said...

Miko, interesting point!

It may be that the wealth distribution in this country has become so skewed toward an extremely wealthy handful, that no matter what the government does short of grabbing assets, nothing significant will change for the better for the common man. Grabbing assets? Perish the thought!

I am beginning to think that there is no way that elections really matter that much, because the wealthy powerful will twist successfully to control either partisan majority and any President.

Obama is getting to look more like Bush as the days tick by, in my view. Obama's one asset is that his rhetoric covers it up better in spite of his increased transparency. Yes, that does not make sense, meaning that I am confused by this man. And yes also, it is still to early to judge his effectiveness. Impatience may the operative word. I hope that's all it is!


Yes, disappointment and cynicism are emerging for me wrt Obama & Co.
Must I be more patient?