Cheese – The Truth about the Fed

I really can’t do better today than to quote, in full, today’s bulletin from Adrian Ash of the BullionVault:

from Adrian Ash
Head of Research, BullionVault

FORGET the glut in crude oil, copper, cargo ships or Chinese steel capacity.

Cheese. There is too much cheese, says Bloomberg.

That is why the price of US cheddar cheese blocks…a tradeable asset, apparently…fell to new 5-year lows yesterday. Cheese futures for December delivery hit their lowest price since April.

“We’re making a lot of cheese and not selling a lot of it,” says one dairy manager.

“So it’s all going into storage for the moment.”

This cheese glut, of course, is the global economic environment into which the US Federal Reserve last night raised its key interest rate.

Hence the humming and hawing in the Fed’s accompanying statement, forecasts and press conference.

Yes, rates have been too low for too long. Yes, financial assets have been bid up to untold records…squashing the yield they offer to nothing…as the glut of money which zero rates have created forced otherwise cautious savers into all manner of half-baked “collectibles” and “luxury goods” at auction…

…not to mention real estate, high-yields “junk” bonds and investment scams.

So the Fed basically promised that “lift off” from zero would start in 2015. That made yesterday’s rate-rise a 100% certainty if markets weren’t to collapse on a loss of confidence in everything Janet Yellen ever says.

But this rating-hiking cycle…the first begun since 2004…is not like any rate-rising cycle the world has ever seen before.

First it starts from near zero. Second, the rest of the world (besides US Dollar-pegged Hong Kong) is going in the other direction…either sitting tight at record lows (like a raft of central bank decisions already today)…or cutting further (like Taiwan did overnight).

Third, but most crucially, it’s a rate rise which the Fed doesn’t want to make and doesn’t believe it should.

Because…thanks to all the gluts in oil, copper and cheese…inflation is missing. And while a strong labour market is one half of the Fed’s mandate, the other half is stability in consumer prices. Which the Fed says means 2.0% inflation. And which…by a remarkable coincidence…the entire Fed policy team unanimously says will be the pace of inflation in the “long run”.

But its other forecasts? These people voted 9-1 against raising rates in October. With nothing changed, they voted 10-0 yesterday to hike after all.

Really, these folks don’t know what they’re doing. They’re making it up as they go along.

Most of the time this doesn’t matter. Because the world gets by regardless and in spite of them.

But every so often…as in the 1970s or say 2008…the world suddenly spots the problem.

This confidence game is a con trick. Fingers crossed the markets don’t notice.

Adrian Ash
Head of Research, BullionVault
There, you’ve been told.  It’s all about cheese.

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