Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Markets React to Helicopternomics and so does New York Investing

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

The U.S. Federal Reserves 50 basis point rate cut on September 18, 2007 would prove to be a seminal event in U.S. economic history. As is the case for many actions that have potentially disastrous impacts, there was a swift and stupendously negative reaction after the Fed lowered rates. It was clear immediately to almost everyone except the Fed and its Wall Street supplicants that the rate cut decision had been the wrong one.

Starting that day, the trade-weighted dollar (the value of the dollar against the currencies of the Americas largest trading partners) already down 33% from its peak level during the Bush administration, started selling off and looked like it was setting itself up for a potential collapse. On the Monday following the Fed’s move, the U.S. dollar hit the first of a series of all time lows By the end of September, the value of dollar would be down against almost every currency on the planet, including the Philippine peso, the Brazilian real, the Turkish lira and the Botswanan pula. People everywhere were desperate to get rid of their dollars and even preferred to hold currencies from countries that had previously been so monetarily irresponsible that they had experienced hyperinflation.

In the future, people would see this episode as the beginning of the end of the U.S. dollar as the reserve currency for the world. Years of excessive government, consumer and business borrowing and irresponsible U.S. monetary policy were finally turning the dollar into a currency that people wanted to avoid rather than hold. Loss of reserve currency status would be definitive once the world oil producers stopped pricing their wares in dollars. While this was still some time in the future, the inevitability of this outcome had now become a certainty.

The fallout from the Fed's monetary easing was unfortunately not limited to its impact on the U.S. currency. The falling dollar acted as the spark that ignited a rally in the commodity markets. Since most commodities were priced in dollars, everything else being equal, their prices had to go up as the dollar fell. A large basket of commodities tracked by the CRB index rallied over 8% during the month of the Fed rate cut, the biggest such increase since the high-inflation 1970s. It was perhaps even more disturbing that the commodities most sensitive to inflation, gold and oil, had some of the strongest rallies. Only three days after the Fed’s cut, gold hit a 27-year high. Oil hit a series of all time highs breaking through $80 a barrel and then $90 a barrel only weeks later. Most investors were so euphoric at the Fed’s largess to Wall Street, that they failed to notice that the markets were not just saying there was serious inflation on the horizon, they were screaming it.

The seriousness of the damage the Fed was causing and was intending to cause to the U.S. economy motivated the New York Investing meetup to spread it's message beyond its membership. After the September Fed meeting, New York Investing did its first videos on the topics of inflation and the falling dollar (See, "Protecting Yourself From Inflation and the Credit Bubble", The first of these five videos were done with Alex Paul Morris from MoMoney.TV interviewing organizer Daryl Montgomery. Subsequently, the New York Investing meetup would do its own videos and publish them on You Tube and in a number of other venues.

Next: More Collateral Damage from the Fed's First Helicopter Drop

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer, New York Investing meetup

For more information about the New York Investing meetup, please go to: