Sonntag, 3. Juli 2011

Die US-Schuldenobergenze und "Geld drucken"

Die Debatte um die US-Schuldenobergrenze schwehlt weiter. N-TV schreibt:

"Die USA hatten die gesetzlich erlaubte Schuldengrenze von 14,3 Billionen Dollar bereits am 16. Mai erreicht. Seitdem darf sich die US-Regierung kein frisches Geld mehr leihen und kann ihre Rechnungen nur mit Hilfe von Sondermaßnahmen bezahlen. Damit ist aber am 2. August auch Schluss. Die Lage danach ist unklar. Den USA drohen die Zahlungsunfähigkeit und ein Rückfall in die Rezession. Die Folgen für die internationalen Finanzmärkte wären gravierend. Durch die europäische Schuldenkrise sind sie ohnehin schon angeschlagen".

Bislang war ich davon ausgegangen, daß sich der Kongress noch rechtzeitig einigen würde, so wie bisher auch immer. Alan Greenspan ist deutlich pessimistischer:

"Greenspan was also pessimistic about the U.S. deficit talks, saying he didn’t think Congress would reach an agreement on raising the debt ceiling by the Aug 2 deadline.

“We’re going to get up to Aug 2 and I think on that night, we are not going to have the issue solved,” he said.

If that happens, he said, the U.S. would have to continue paying debt holders or risk major damage in global financial markets. As a result, “we will default on everything else.

Ron Paul schlägt nun offenbar vor, daß einfach US-Staatsanleihen, die die US-Notenbank im Zuge von "Quantitative Easing" Operationen erworben hat, "gelöscht" werden sollen:

"We owe, like, $1.6 trillion because the Federal Reserve bought that debt, so we have to work hard to pay the interest to the Federal Reserve," Paul said. "We don't, I mean, they're nobody; why do we have to pay them off?"

Ich habe keine Ahnung, wie Ron Paul sich das konkret vorstellt. Diese Staatsschulden stehen nach meinem Verständnis auf der Vermögensseite der FED-Bilanz. Karl Denninger echauffiert sich darüber, daß die Bankreserven, die durch die FED-Käufe geschaffen wurden (und FED-Verbindlichkeiten darstellen), offenbar nicht tangiert werden sollen:

"So let's think through Mr. Paul's "creative" solution. Destroying the bonds The Fed holds while leaving the "excess reserves" that are on deposit, which The Fed creates with a push of a button to pay for those bonds, is in fact exactly identical to unbacked emission of currency.

That is, raw printing of money."

Die Bankreserven gleich mit zu "löschen", wäre ja auch nicht Sinn der Übung, da es die US-Banken vermutlich crashen würde. Was aber mit der FED passiert, wenn der Kongress ihr einen massiven "Haircut" verpaßt, weiß ich nicht. Hoffentlich wird Mish demnächst darüber schreiben, ich bin intellektuell überfordert.

In der Zwischenzeit gibt ein aktuelles Interview vom Daily Bell mit Joe Salerno (Mises Institut) einen Einblick in die komplizierte Realität des modernen "Geldruckens". Darin wird ein offener Brief von Prof. Fekete an Ron Paul erwähnt, den ich bisher übersehen hatte. Fekete kritisiert darin nach meinem Verständnis die Praxis der FED, obengenannte Staatsanleihen mit Geld aus dem Nichts zu kaufen und behauptet es sei illegal nach dem Federal Reserve Act von 1913:

"What the F.R. banks cannot legally do is to buy the Treasury paper first with unauthorized F.R. credit, post the paper as collateral, and justify the illegal issuance of credit retroactively. Nor can they borrow the bond from the Treasury, post it as collateral, and pay for the bond retroactively.

This is an important limitation separating the regime of market-based irredeemable currency from the regime of fiat money involving outright monetization of government debt — the graveyard where the Continental dollar, the assignat, the mandat, the Reichsmark, and the Zimbabwe dollar (among countless others) rest.

At any rate, retroactive authorization of F.R. credit, if that’s what the Fed is up to, would be a violation of both the letter and spirit of the F.R. Act. It would mean converting the dollar into outright fiat money through the back door, bypassing Congress. It would show absolute bad faith on the part of the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, Dr. Ben Bernanke, who certainly knows what the law is. Such a blatant violation of the law would make him totally unfit for the powerful office he occupies. It would call for his immediate and dishonorable discharge by the President, pending Congressional investigation of the matter."

Hier die Antwort von Salerno:

"Dr. Joseph Salerno: Assuming that Fekete has actually said these things, then he is confused, to say the least. I cannot explain exactly what he means, but I will respond to some of his statements.

The Fed is certainly not now constrained in its money-creating activities by "stringent legal conditions," if it ever was. Since World War 2, and especially since 1980, the Fed is able to create money at will by purchasing assets on the open market. It exercises this power every day three blocks from my office in New York City where the New York Federal Reserve Bank with its "trading desk" is located. The Fed is legally authorized to buy and sell U. S. government as well as many other types of securities for its own account on the open market. It trades exclusively with 20 or so "primary dealers," consisting mainly of Wall Street investment banks and other large securities dealers. When the Fed wishes to increase the money supply, it simply holds a computer auction where it offers to buy Treasury securities from these firms. It will purchase from the firms offering the best selling prices and will pay with checks written on itself. Actually payment is not in the form of literal paper checks, but in the form of electronic transfers of funds to the sellers' bank deposits.

But where does the Fed obtain the funds from that it transfers to the sellers? It literally and instantaneously creates them out of thin air – or in cyberspace – by the stroke of a computer key. Say the Fed purchases $100 million in bonds on a given day (usually in the morning during so-called "Fed time" from 9:00 am to 11:00 am). The newly created dollars that are paid out to the sellers now swell the reserves of the banks in which they are deposited. The Fed now has $100 million dollars worth of additional assets in the form of U.S. Treasury securities offset by $100 million dollars of new liabilities represented by the increase in reserve deposits that it holds for the banks.

While some of a bank's reserves are held as currency in its vaults and ATM machines, most are held as insubstantial cyber-credit entries in their deposit accounts on the books of the Fed. The $100 million of reserves, a component of "base money" or "the monetary base," thus created by the Fed, can fuel a multiple expansion of the money supply as the banks create new checking deposits for businesses and households by lending and relending these added reserves subject to a legal reserve requirement of 10 percent. Thus from 2001 through 2005, the Fed orchestrated a $2 trillion increase in the U.S. money supply on the basis of open market purchases that swelled base money by $200 billion. In effect, during the period when the financial and real estate bubble was forming, the Fed was wildly creating new money at the rate of $1 billion per day! Again in 2008-2009 the Fed doubled the monetary base and bank reserves in a matter of four or five months by creating money to buy up not only government securities but also almost every kind of private security it could lay its hands on.

So Fekete is dead wrong in claiming that the Fed is somehow subject to rigid legal constraints in conducting monetary policy. As to his claim that the Fed is not legally permitted to purchase new issues of Treasury securities from the Treasury, it is true but beside the point. The law is a sham and does not restrain the Fed from creating money at will by simply buying previously issued Treasury securities on the open market.

Lastly, Dr. Fekete's argument that the Fed can purchase government securities "only if they pay with F. R. credit that has been legally created" proves nothing. "Federal Reserve Bank credit" merely refers to the asset side (minus gold) of the Fed's balance sheet, which can be expanded without external control or limit by the Fed itself using the dollars it creates via open market purchases."

Ich frage mich manchmal, ob meine Vorliebe für Warengeld nicht einfach aus meiner Frustration erwächst, daß ich schlicht nicht mehr mitkomme, wenn (Zentral)Banken über Geld reden und disponieren. Vielleicht ist es eine moderne Form von Luddismus. Vielleicht ist unser Geldsystem aber auch wirklich zu komplex geworden, um es noch begreifen zu können. Gold wäre Geld, das so simpel wie unser Hirn ist.

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