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Showing posts from December, 2015

Should We Go Back on the Gold Standard?

If you watched the Republican presidential debates, you might have noticed that a number of  candidates yearn for a return to the gold standard—that is, that every dollar issued by the government would be backed by a comparable value in gold bars that were stashed away in a government vault. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas argued that the dollar should have a fixed value in gold, and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky added that printing money without backing in the precious metal destroys the value of our currency. Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, thinks that if not gold, then the dollar could be pegged to a basket of commodities. All are mostly concerned that printing money will cause runaway inflation.   But there may be several problems with this return to the fiscal system of the late 1800s and early 1900s. One is that inflation has barely budged even as the Federal Reserve Board was piling one QE stimulus on top of another, and the government was adding records amounts of currency

The Rise of Short-Term Rates

While many market participants wait for the "inevitable" rise in short-term interest rates expected when the Federal Reserve tightens its monetary policy, some investors may have missed the increase in short-term rates already underway as a result of market forces.    Looking at the zero- to two-year segment of the yield curve—the segment that many believe will be most affected whenever the Fed "normalizes interest rates"—it may be surprising to see how much rates have increased since 2013.   In fact, the yield on the 2-Year US Treasury note has nearly doubled since the beginning of 2015, rising from 0.45% in January to almost 0.90% today.* The yield on the 1-Year US Treasury note has more than tripled, from 0.15% to more than 0.50% over the same period. The 6-Month US Treasury bill’s yield rose from a low of 0.03% in May to over 0.30% today. Yet, despite the higher rates, we have not experienced the conjectured financial storm in the fixed income market.