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Doug Noland: “Significant Unavoidable Cost”

In this week’s Credit Bubble Bulletin Prudent Bear’s Doug Noland makes a crucial point: It’s not inflation that the U.S. risks by issuing trillions of dollars of new debt, but “a crisis of confidence at the very heart of our monetary system.”

Exactly. If we keep this up the financial markets might abandon dollar-denominated assets, virtually overnight. And the only way to avoid this fate is to liquidate the debt and take the resulting pain. Here’s an excerpt:

And I find myself increasingly frustrated by the ongoing “inflation vs. deflation debate.”  With today’s low level of consumer price inflation, those arguing that deflationary forces are the paramount systemic risk now dominate policy dialogue.  Most tend to be inflationists.  Most argue for additional stimulus and see little risk in such activist policymaking.

I see risks altogether differently.  We are in the late-phase of a multi-decade historic Credit Bubble.  The greatest risk at this point is that massive issuance of non-productive governmental debt foments a crisis of confidence at the very heart of our monetary system.  The top priority must be to ensure that such a devastating outcome is avoided – and at significant unavoidable cost.  It is imperative that we as a nation come to the recognition that real financial and economic pain must be endured to protect the long-term viability of our monetary system.  The inflation rate is not the key issue.  And efforts to try to inflate our way out of structural debt problems are a lost cause.  We must instead move forcefully to rein in our deficits and avoid further debt monetization in order to protect the soundness of our money and Credit – or else risk a financial crash.

Most regrettably, Washington policymaking (fiscal and monetary) is on a trajectory that will inevitably destroy the creditworthiness of our nation’s vast liabilities. With ominous parallels to the mortgage/Wall Street finance Bubble, Federal Reserve policies have fostered Bubble dynamics throughout our Treasury, agency and debt markets, more generally.  Instead of market dynamics working to discipline Washington’s profligate debt expansion, Federal Reserve interventions ensure that a distorted marketplace again accommodates perilous Credit excess.  Our central bankers should heed Mr. Trichet’s warning.  Additional quantitative ease will only fuel the Bubble and risk calamity.

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