Surprised? Really?! – Digital Money

November
25

Written by: Jon McGraw

Okay. Okay. If you’ve been trekking through Siberia or Patagonia for about a year, then maybe it surprised you to hear the minutes from the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meeting showed it expects to begin tapering Quantitative Easing (QE) in the coming months.

However, since the Fed has been telling anyone who will listen – telling them over and over and over again – that its intent is to slow the pace at which it buys bonds as the U.S. economy strengthens (and since most people haven’t been exploring the hinterlands where the convenience of modern communications may not be readily available), it’s difficult to understand why that information was so surprising that it pushed stock and bond markets significantly lower.  (Click HERE for our full Economic Notes this week)

It might have been easier to understand market declines if they had occurred on Tuesday after the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released its revised economic outlook. In his speech, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said:

“The recovery of the global economy is progressing at a moderate and uneven pace. World GDP growth, which averaged about 4 percent per year in the decade up to the onset of the global crisis, is expected to reach only 2.7% in 2013, the lowest rate since 2009. While we expect global growth rates to move again towards 4 percent in 2015, the world will continue to be affected by the harsh social legacy of the crisis… The recovery itself is exposed to potential downside risks, including fiscal brinkmanship in the United States, unresolved banking problems in the euro area, the high debt burden in Japan, and financial vulnerabilities in some large emerging-market economies.”

Gurría also said, in the OECD’s long-term view, economic weakness was the result of investment remaining anemic, credit growth remaining subdued, trade growth gaining sluggishly, and growth in emerging economies faltering.

Regardless, the markets’ downward foray was short-lived. On Friday, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index closed above 1800 for the very first time and other U.S. markets moved higher as well.  (Click HERE for our thoughts on the stock markets current valuation!)

 


Data as of 11/22/13

1-Week

Y-T-D

1-Year

3-Year

5-Year

10-Year

Standard & Poor’s 500 (Domestic Stocks)

0.4%

26.5%

28.1%

14.6%

16.2%

5.6%

10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)

2.8

NA

1.7

2.8

3.3

4.2

Gold (per ounce)

-3.2

-26.4

-28.0

-2.8

8.7

12.3

DJ-UBS Commodity Index

0.5

-11.0

-14.1

-5.1

0.0

-0.1

DJ Equity All REIT TR Index

-2.1

2.8

6.9

11.5

21.3

9.2

 

A BRIEF BRIEF ON DIGITAL MONEY…

 

If you read or watched the news during the past few months, you may already know this, but there has been an explosion of interest in digital money. That’s the reason you may be hearing and reading about dozens of companies that are rushing to coin virtual currency that has real value. It just seems so 21st Century, doesn’t it?

Odds are you’ve already used digital money. For example, you used it the last time you purchased something online. Digital money is what we use when we pay or are paid electronically. Think smart phones and credit cards. Digital money is not tangible; however, it is possible to convert digital money that is part of a large centralized banking system into paper money by making a withdrawal from an ATM.

In the United States, the Federal Reserve is responsible for maintaining the integrity of U.S. bills and coins by setting monetary policy. Digital currency companies offer a parallel currency universe; a means of transferring electronic money from one person to another without using traditional banking or money-transfer systems.

Digital money companies appear to be delivering American economist Milton Friedman’s dream, according to The Economist. Years ago, Friedman suggested the Federal Reserve be abolished and replaced by an automated system that would increase money supply at a steady, pre-set rate. He believed such a system would better control inflation, making spending and investment decisions more certain. The Economist article said:

“In theory, then, the system ought to keep a lid on inflation – making it attractive to critics of interventionist monetary policy of the sort practiced since 2008 by America’s Federal Reserve under the label quantitative easing… It offers other apparent benefits, too. The currency can be used by anyone (unlike credit cards, for instance), anywhere. Transaction costs are also likely to be lower than those for traditional payment systems, though these are not in fact zero…”

The Economist goes on to point out a key difference between central-bank-controlled currencies (which often offer both bills and coins and digital currencies) and digital currency companies is the former are backed by a country’s regulations and laws; the latter are answerable to online communities using the currencies.

Weekly Fun – Think About It

“A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.”  –Henry Ford, American Industrialist

Happy Thanksgiving!