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Tags: Summers | Gandel | Fed | QE

Fortune: If You Love QE, Fear Larry Summers as Fed Chair

By    |   Tuesday, 30 July 2013 07:53 AM

If you love quantitative easing (QE), the Federal Reserve's massive stimulus program, you should fear Larry Summers to be a front runner to succeed Ben Bernanke as the next Federal Reserve chairman.

Summers, a former Treasury secretary, has questioned QE, saying it has done little to improve the economy and may have sparked speculative bubbles, noted Fortune senior editor Stephen Gandel.

"There's certainly anecdotal evidence of yield chasing by investors who are seeking to earn greater than completely safe rates of return," Summers said last month, according to Gandel.

Editor's Note:
Economist Unapologetically Calls Out Bernanke, Obama for Mishandling Economy. See What They Did

Summers has also rejected concerns that ending QE would disrupt financial markets by prompting interest rates to spike.

"Some acquaintance with efficient-market-type notions would lead one to be rather skeptical of that idea," he said in April 2011.

Rates jumped when Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the Fed might start shrinking QE later this year.

The Fed hoped to lower long-term interest rates by buying $85 billion mortgage and Treasury bonds a month.

Summers has said QE has only slightly lowered interest rates, which is unlikely to spur businesses to increase spending or invest more, Gandel stated.

He has questioned if QE is creating any wealth effect, that is, encouraging spending by making people feel richer because of a rising stock market. Higher stock values, he has said, do not equal higher spending levels. In fact, QE may have even diminished spending by holding down rates.

The Fed might not have implemented QE if Summers was the chairman, according to Gandel. In a 2008 editorial for The Washington Post, he said the Fed could do nothing else because rates were already so low. Since that time, the 10-year Treasury yield dropped from 3.6 percent to 1.4 percent last summer, before recently rising to about 2.5 percent.

Yet, in October 2011, Summers supported buying more mortgage bonds in order to help the housing market. But with real estate recovering, it's not clear if he would favor continuing QE, Gandel explained.

Markets would be shaken if President Obama nominated Summers, analysts told CNBC.

"If Summers is appointed, then we many see markets correct as tapering will be expected to happen more quickly," said David Forrester, a strategist at Macquarie Bank, told CNBC, saying Treasury yields would rise and the dollar would strengthen.

Some experts want Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Janet Yellen, who's viewed as more dovish than Summers, to be nominated.

"Yellen is a Fed insider and was part of the Federal Open Market Committee when QE was being implemented, while Summers questions the efficacy of QE," Forrester said.

Editor's Note: Economist Unapologetically Calls Out Bernanke, Obama for Mishandling Economy. See What They Did

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FinanceNews
If you love quantitative easing (QE), the Federal Reserve's massive stimulus program, you should fear Larry Summers to be a front runner to succeed Ben Bernanke as the next Federal Reserve chairman.
Summers,Gandel,Fed,QE
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2013-53-30
Tuesday, 30 July 2013 07:53 AM
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