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Weekly E-Letter 9/122/2017  — The $2,000,000,000,000 Experiment

In a much anticipated move this week, Fed Chair Janet Yellen announced that Quantitative Easing is being eased out. Does it matter? Will it affect you? Maybe.

Funny how time flies isn’t it?

It doesn’t seem like it was very long ago that no one had even heard the term Quantitative Easing. And yet, even today, a lot of economists disagree on what it actually is, how it truly works or even if it does work at all. Generally associated with the Obama years, it was actually put in motion by the Bush administration as a method of spurring growth during the Great Recession.

The idea was that the central bank would step in and buy trillions of dollars of government bonds — having such a big (and reliable) buyer of bonds on hand was intended to strengthen the bond market and also create a knock-on effect of supporting equity share prices. (There was a bit of black magic in the formula because in order for it to work it had to support bonds while keeping yields artificially low). Detractors pointed out that while the scheme made sense mechanically, it was still creating a strong potential for rapid inflation once the ‘easing’ stopped.

Many said that Quantitative Easing must ultimately be answered with ‘quantitative tightening’.

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