Helicopter Ben’s QE3

At this point, I think anything that the Fed does is like voodoo. It almost doesn’t matter if it works, as long as the market thinks it does:

The Federal Reserve said it will expand its holdings of long-term securities with open-ended purchases of $40 billion of mortgage debt a month in a third round of quantitative easing as it seeks to boost growth and reduce unemployment.

“We’re looking for ongoing, sustained improvement in the labor market,” Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said in his press conference today in Washington following the conclusion of a two-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee. “There’s not a specific number we have in mind. What we’ve seen in the last six months isn’t it.”

Stocks jumped, sending benchmark indexes to the highest levels since 2007, and gold climbed as the Fed said it will continue buying assets, undertake additional purchases and employ other policy tools as appropriate “if the outlook for the labor market does not improve substantially.”

Ezra Klein seems to think the new round of quantitative easing from the Federal Reserve is a BFD, and will send an encouraging signal to the markets:

The Federal Reserve’s announcement Thursday is a big deal.

It’s a big deal because of what they’re doing. They’re buying $85 billion in assets every month through the end of the year, and then they’re potentially going to keep doing it in 2013. They’re promising to keep interest rates low through the recovery, and then keep them low after the recovery strengthens.

But it’s a bigger deal because of what they’re saying. Thursday, the Federal Reserve said, finally, that they’re not content with 8 percent unemployment and a sluggish recovery, and they’re willing to actually do something about it. If you’re an investor or a business owner trying to decide what the market is going to look like next year, you just got a lot more optimistic.

That’s the weird thing about the Federal Reserve. We don’t just care about what they do. Because their power is so vast — the ability to make as much real, American money as you want is quite a superpower — we care about what they want in the future. And, until Thursday, we weren’t getting much clarity on what they wanted in the future, or how far they were willing to go to achieve it.

Ian Welsh says no, it won’t help the people who need it the most:

The Fed has announced its third quantitative easing program. To state what should be obvious, the effect on the economy for ordinary people will be minimal, as with QE1 and 2. It will help banks, financial firms most, other large corporations will also benefit. If you work at the executive level in one of those organizations, it will help you and raise your salary or bonuses. It will not significantly raise demand for goods and services and will not do much for the rest of the economy. Remember, 93% of the gains of the Obama recovery went to the rich, and that was not by mistake.

Atrios is not quite as gloomy as Ian, but close:

So we’re going to have more goosing of financial asset prices. Bernanke said something about how we’ll all go spend money when we see that our 401Ks are doing better. So a lot more money for rich people, a tiny bit more for some of the rest of us, and some hopey that it causes the economy to go WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

One thought on “Helicopter Ben’s QE3

  1. Wait — so the Fed is going to be buying toxic assets, mortgages or mortgage-backed-securities? Doesn’t that make this another bank bailout?

    See, if we hold onto these crap mortgages long enough, the government will buy them! So let’s issue more crap mortgages! Light your cigars, boys — we’re back in the game!

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