John Mauldin on the Unintended Consequences of Fed I-rate Policy

Download 2009-11-20 Interest Rates, Yield Curve

Look at the graph of the yield curve below. It is as steep as we have seen it in a long time. But that is almost the point. Banks are essentially getting free money. If you are a banker and can’t make money in this environment, you need to quit and find meaningful employment.

Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 3.49.50 PM

And that is part of the rationale that the Fed espouses with its low interest rate regime. Not only does it allow banks to repair their balance sheets, it also encourages investors to put money into riskier assets in order to get some return on their investments. Over $260 billion has gone into bond funds this year, and just $2.6 billion into stock funds. However, you have to balance that with the fact that some $400 billion has left money market funds paying less than 0.2%. So there is some movement to capture yield.

But is it just banks that are getting cheap money? And is encouraging investors to find riskier assets a sound policy? Maybe not.

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