Quantitative Easing Exit Issues

During QE1 (the first round of The Federal Reserve’s Quantitative Easing) there seemed to be substantial commentary and discussion concerning the exit of such a program.

Over the last few months the discussions over the exit strategy seem to have diminished greatly – despite the start of QE2 and speculation of additional QE programs, i.e. QE3, QE4, etc.

I have discussed the various risks of Quantitative Easing in several posts.  As I stated in the August 13 post, “There are an array of risks embedded in such QE efforts.”  These risks, although very substantial, seem to (severely) lack recognition.

The (eventual) exit of Quantitative Easing is one of these risks.  This is a very complex topic of which much can be written.

While I believe it to be rather incontrovertible that The Federal Reserve does have the knowledge and tools to exit such QE programs, that is not to say that doing such will be without complications, adverse unforeseen consequences, or market disruptions.

While it is possible that the eventual exit from QE will go smoothly, I think that the possibility of adversity in doing so is high.  There is much that can go wrong in “a big way” on numerous fronts – especially if an exit is done under exigent circumstances.  As well, there are many conflicting incentives inherent in Quantitative Easing, which further complicates the “exit” issue.

One item that is particularly disconcerting is the potential for capital losses on the Fed’s growing balance sheet.  I’ve already commented about this in the November 5 post.  In a December 2 Cumberland Advisors commentary titled “Fed Exit Strategies – Technical Analysis” (pdf), there are some notable statistics on this subject in their commentary on the exit issue.

It should be very interesting to monitor this QE exit as it occurs…

A Special Note concerning our economic situation is found here

SPX at 1236.63 as this post is written