As the time for two days - not just one - of Fed meetings draws closer, rumors have begun to circulate about what big news the Fed will deliver. It's all but a foregone conclusion that Bernanke and company will take steps to create liquidity in some last ditch attempt to bolster the economy.
Bernanke has already assured America that interest rates will remain low through 2013. That is to say the fed funds rate and the fed discount rate will remain status quo. These rates are currently, 0 - .25% and .75% respectively. The prime rate, influenced by both the fed funds rate and discount rate is 3.25%.
While these rates are at historical lows, it is believed by many experts the Fed can and will do more. For example, mortgages and other real estate loans are not only influenced by rates set by the Fed but are highly influenced by treasury yields. Currently, the 10-year yield is 1.99%. The 30 year is 3.30%. If the Fed could force these rates even lower, this could cause investors to turn away from bonds as an investment in search of higher returns.
At the same time, as these rates fall, this helps to drive down loans on everything from cars to homes to credit card balances. Throw in a promise to have Fannie and Freddie buy up as many loans as can be written, and you have the formula for potentially very low and new mortgage rates.
Why all the interest rate gymnastics? To spur consumer spending again and to effectively encourage the consumer to take on more debt. They won't even have to call it QE3. In fact, they could announce there will be no more quantitative easing in an effort to stave of political pressure against incurring more debt.
But, make no mistake, whatever wig you put on the mannequin, it's still a dummy and it's still printing money. Will it work? If mortgage rates were 2% on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage would you refinance your house and maybe take a little equity out for good measure? Would that renter be coaxed into buying again instead of renting? Don't you think real estate prices would actually bump a little higher as a $100,000 mortgage just got $200 a month cheaper. Cripes! You can lease a little gas-saving Chevy with the money you save on even a small mortgage.
As always, should this come to pass, there will be winners and losers. Will it create enough money to finally jump start a failing economy? Will that create more jobs? Or, will it just be another temporary reprieve? I think those who win will be those who use the extra liquidity to reduce debt at a faster rate. Yes, some will invest successfully and turn 2 or 3 percent money into 6 or 7 percent money. Heck, some people may even buy gold and other commodities in search of those higher returns.
Look what the last 3 years of printing-money policies have already done to the gold price. Gold has doubled, far outperforming stocks or real estate. Now there's a great idea. Borrow money to buy gold. In fact, it could be like having your own printing press for money. Do like the central banks are doing. They print money to pay debt, stimulate the economy and BUY GOLD!
That said, gold prices could be on the verge of a mini explosion as a result of a fed move that could keep the gold market booming for years to come.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.