What Happens If Central Banks FAIL in Their Giant Experiment?

Four of the world's largest banks are now running the money printing presses like never before in history. These four banks include the Bank of Japan, US Federal Reserve, The Bank of England and the European Central Bank. This out of control money printing will cause serious problems soon if its not put under control.

Martin D. Weiss Ph.D.
Monday, April 16, 2012 at 7:30 am
Money and Markets

I rarely recommend that you wade through a wordy speech by an economic theorist delivered to an audience of stuffy bankers.

But last week’s address by PIMCO Vice President El-Erian to the St. Louis Fed is one you absolutely MUST not miss.

And to save you the trouble of deciphering the economics code words, I dedicate most of this issue to the key points he makes — the same basic points that our colleague Mike Larson has been making for months.

First and foremost, four of the world’s largest central banks have gone absolutely berserk, running the money printing presses like never before in history:

he Bank of Japan (BOJ) had already been printing money like crazy ever since their bubble economy burst in the early 1990s.

So when the debt crisis struck in 2008, the size of their balance sheet assets, which measure the cumulative total of a central bank’s money printing operations, was already the biggest in the world: About 20% of their economy.

Then, when the shock waves of the Lehman Brothers collapse struck Japan, what did they do?

They stepped up their money printing operations EVEN further — to about 30% of GDP. (See yellow line in chart above.)

Other than Brazil in the 1970s or Germany in the 1920s, no other major nation — or group of nations — on the planet had ever gone that far! (Until, that is, Europe, which I’ll get to in a moment.)

Meanwhile …

At the U.S. Federal Reserve, no Fed Chairman in history — not even notorious easy-money advocates like Arthur Burns or Allen Greenspan — had EVER run the money printing presses for any extended period of time.

But Fed Chairman Bernanke changed all that. Soon after the debt crisis hit in 2008, he nearly TRIPLED the size of the Fed’s balance sheet from about 6% of GDP to almost 17% of GDP.

And in the years since, he has pumped it up even further to about 20% of GDP! (Red line in chart.)

The Bank of England (BOE) has mostly been expanding its balance sheet in lock step with the Fed (green line).

But in the global race to print money, it’s the European Central Bank (ECB) which has been leading the pack in the past year or so, suddenly expanding their balance sheet from about 20% of GDP to close to 30% GDP (blue line).

This is absolutely massive!

Heck, in the 1990s and 2000s, just the money-printing operations by ONE central bank (the Bank of Japan) changed the world:

Global investors borrowed abundant amounts of cheap money in Japan and poured it into risky investments around the world, helping to create some of the largest bubbles — and busts — in history.

Now, imagine FOUR central banks doing the same thing at the same time!

That’s what we have today! And that’s why the folks at PIMCO say it’s so dangerous.

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