Watch Those Monetary Aggregates!

Call me a nerd, but instead of spending my Sundays watching football, I pour over data analyzing the monetary aggregates. That’s a tough thing to say for someone whose dad was a lineman on the University of Southern California’s legendary 1947 junior varsity football team.

This is so I can gain insights into the future performance of assets classes. What I am seeing these days is not just unusual, it’s bizarre. Call it a double reverse, a Hail Mary, and a Statue of Liberty all combined into one.

You can clearly see the impact of QE2 at the end of 2010 on the chart below, which caused the monetary base to explode and triggered a six month love fest for all risk assets. Hard asset prices, like energy, commodities, the grains, and precious metals did especially well, leading to fears of resurging inflation. This prompted the European Central Bank to commit a massive policy blunder by raising interest rates twice. The US dollar (UUP) was weak for much of this time.

When quantitative easing ended in June of that year, not only did the base stop growing, it started shrinking. Hard assets rolled over like the Bismarck, and gold peaked in August. No surprise that when you take away the fuel, the fire goes out. And guess what else happened? The dollar began an uptrend that continues unabated.

So what happens next? Given the continuing strength of the economic data, I think that the prospects of a taper have been greatly diminished. Not only has it been taken off the back burner, the flame has been extinguished and the pot put back into the cupboard.

Needless to say, if this trend continues it will have an inflationary impact on the global economy as a whole, and “RISK ON” assets specifically. It’s simply a question of supply and demand. Print a lot more dollars and you create a supply shortage of other assets, forcing bidders to pay up.

Adjusted Monetary Base

Football Team-CA Junior Varsity-1947Dad Was Always a Great Monetarist