That’s a rare point of view, but it’s one strongly expressed Wednesday by Pimco’s Bill Gross.
Gross, you’ll recall, is now predicting that buyers of Treasury bonds at the current low yields will soon be led to the woodshed. Adjusted for seasonality, that makes them turkeys to be served for Thanksgiving dinner.
Why roast the bondholders now, you might ask. The answer, Gross says, is that the market has fully priced in the effects of the long anticipated second round of quantitative easing. This, he contends, means the bond rally going back to Paul Volcker’s reign at the Fed will definitively end with Wednesday’s Fed statement.
But here Gross breaks ranks with those who would, ridiculously enough, have you believe Bernanke is leading the world into either a civil war or, even more exciting, a world war. No, Gross doesn’t blame Ben Bernanke for the coming bond bloodbath — even as he questions whether QE2 will work.
We are, as even some Fed Governors now publically admit, in a “liquidity trap,” where interest rates or trillions in QEII asset purchases may not stimulate borrowing or lending because consumer demand is just not there. Escaping from a liquidity trap may be impossible, much like light trapped in a black hole. Just ask Japan.
Of course, the fact that QE2 won’t work isn’t its only drawback, as substantial as that one is. Gross says more Fed commitments to prop up the economy will only take the country further down the road it has already traveled, the one in which we buy stuff we can’t pay for and leave it to future generations to pick up the astounding tab.
Has there ever been a Ponzi scheme so brazen? There has not. This one is so unique that it requires a new name. I call it a Sammy scheme, in honor of Uncle Sam and the politicians (as well as its citizens) who have brought us to this critical moment in time.
It is not a Bernanke scheme, because this is his only alternative and he shares no responsibility for its origin. It is a Sammy scheme – you and I, and the politicians that we elect every two years – deserve all the blame.
Fortunately, and we can all agree here, there’s no shortage of that to go around.