Bond Market Calls Fed’s Bluff

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard’s dalliance with bullishness ("Glimmers of Hope") last week didn’t last long:

Bond market calls Fed’s bluff as global economy falls apart
Global bond markets are calling the bluff of the US Federal Reserve.

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Last Updated: 7:22PM GMT 08 Feb 2009

The yield on 10-year US Treasury bonds – the world’s benchmark cost of capital – has jumped from 2pc to 3pc since Christmas despite efforts to talk the rate down.

This level will asphyxiate the US economy if allowed to persist, as Fed chair Ben Bernanke must know. The US is already in deflation. Core prices – stripping out energy – fell at an annual rate of 2pc in the fourth quarter. Wages are following. IBM, Chrysler, General Motors, and YRC, have all begun to cut pay.

The "real" cost of capital is rising as the slump deepens. This is textbook debt deflation. It was not supposed to happen. The Bernanke doctrine assumes that the Fed can bring down the whole structure of interest costs, first by slashing the Fed Funds rate to zero, and then by making a "credible threat" to buy Treasuries outright with printed money.

Mr Bernanke has been repeating this threat since early December. But talk is cheap. As the Fed hesitates, real yields climb ever higher. Plainly, the markets do not regard Fed rhetoric as "credible" at all.

… My own view, sadly, is that there is no hope at all of stabilizing the world economy on current policies.

More here.

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