This Is The Same Pattern The Fed Followed Before The Great Depression

Friday, August 9, 2019
By Paul Martin

Brandon Smith
Friday, 09 August 2019

There is immense confusion surrounding July’s Federal Reserve meeting and the rather insane aftermath that has been spurred on in the trade war. The Fed’s latest rate decision of a mere .25 bps cut was seen as “disappointing”, this was then followed by Jerome Powell’s public statements making it clear that this was only a mid-year “adjustment”, and that it was not the beginning of a rate cutting cycle and certainly not the beginning of renewed QE. This shocked the investment world, which was expecting far more accommodation from the Fed after 7 months of built up expectations that the central bank was about to unleash the stimulus punch bowl again.

The question that very few people are asking, though, is why didn’t they? What is stopping them? Everyone from daytraders to the president wants them to do it, yet they continue to keep liquidity conditions tight. In fact, they even dumped another $36 billion in assets from their balance sheet in July. Why?

Keep in mind that the latest Fed decision does two things: First, it is an indirect admission that the U.S. is entering recession territory. Second, it is also an admission that the Fed doesn’t plan to do anything about it, at least, not until it’s too late. In other words, all those people who thought the central bank was about to kick the can on the current crash in economic fundamentals were mistaken. As I have been predicting for many months, the Fed has no intention of trying to delay the effects of negative conditions any longer. The crash is now a reality that the mainstream will have to accept.

In order to understand why the Fed is withholding liquidity at this time instead of opening the floodgates, it is important to understand central banker motives. First and foremost, the assumption that the Fed is always concerned with keeping the financial system afloat is incorrect. The Fed has allowed the U.S. system to crash multiple times in its 106 year history. In truth, the Fed has created bubble after massive bubble through stimulus and low interest rates, and then crashed these bubbles using liquidity tightening policies.

The latest example of this is the most egregious – The Everything Bubble conjured in the past decade is the largest and most destructive bubble ever devised. To find anything similar, we have to go all the way back to the onset of the Great Depression.

In 1922-1923, the Fed instituted what was then called the Open Market Investment Committee (later replaced by the Federal Open Market Committee); what some people today might call a “Plunge Protection Team”. The public rationale for this development was to help the Fed enact “monetary policy” which would allow them to stabilize the economy and markets after the recession/depression of 1920-1921. Using the OMIC, the Fed directly influenced the economy, stock markets and credit conditions by artificially lowering interest rates and purchasing government securities and other assets throughout the 1920s.

At first this kind of monetary interventionism in the economy seemed to be working spectacularly. From 1924 onward, the Dow Jones climbed relentlessly higher and recessionary conditions, at least on the surface, seemed to disappear. There were even assertions by economists of the day that recessions and depressions were a “thing of the past”, as were stock market crashes. Sound familiar…?

At the time, short term, long term and overnight lending rates remained relatively low in comparison to the high rates exhibited during the 1920 depression. The Fed stimulated through open market purchases all the way up to 1928. It was then that a sudden and significant shift occurred. The Fed began to deliberately tighten conditions in order to deflate the bubble they created. The Fed hiked interest rates and sold off assets from their balance sheet.

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