The U.S. economy is in a bubble inflated by “phony money” from the Federal Reserve and will burst within a few years, warned David Stockman, who was budget director for President Ronald Reagan

Stockman Warns of Crash Of Fed-Fueled Bubble Economy

The U.S. economy is in a bubble inflated by “phony money” from the Federal Reserve and will burst within a few years, warned David Stockman, who was budget director for President Ronald Reagan.

In an essay published yesterday in the New York Times (NYT), Stockman wrote that the Fed’s quantitative easing policies in the aftermath of the credit crisis have flooded stock markets with cash even while the “Main Street economy” remains weak. The combination, he wrote, is “unsustainable.”

“When it bursts, there will be no new round of bailouts like the ones the banks got in 2008,” wrote Stockman, a former senior managing director at Blackstone Group LP (BX) and a former Republican congressman from Michigan. “Instead, America will descend into an era of zero-sum austerity and virulent political conflict, extinguishing even today’s feeble remnants of economic growth.”

Stockman, 66, is the author of “The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America,” which will be published April 2.The Fed, led by Ben S. Bernanke, is purchasing $85 billion in assets every month. The Fed is leaving its key interest rate near zero while it tries to reduce unemployment below 6.5 percent and hold inflation below 2.5 percent.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX) rose to an all-time high last week, closing at 1,569.19 on March 28. That surpassed the previous record of 1,565.15 set in October 2007. U.S. stock markets were closed March 29 for the Good Friday holiday.

Gold Standard

Among the other culprits Stockman blamed for what he termed a “state-wreck” are President Franklin Delano Roosevelt for weakening the gold standard in 1933, President Richard Nixon for removing the convertibility of dollars to gold and “lapsed hero” Alan Greenspan, the former Fed chairman, for keeping interest rates too low for too long.

Investors will sell, Stockman wrote, at any hint that the Fed is starting to remove assets from its balance sheet.

“Notwithstanding Bernanke’s assurances about eventually, gradually making a smooth exit, the Fed is domiciled in a monetary prison of its own making,” he wrote, warning of unsustainable fiscal policies as well. “These policies have brought America to an end-stage metastasis. The way out would be so radical it can’t happen.”

Paul Krugman, the Princeton University economist and New York Times columnist, responded on his blog yesterday, saying that he was “disappointed” in Stockman’s “gee-whiz, context- and model-free numbers embedded in a rant — and not even an interesting rant.”

Krugman called Stockman’s piece “cranky old man stuff,” and summarized it this way:

“We’ve been doomed, yes doomed, ever since FDR took us off the gold standard and introduced unemployment insurance. What about those 80 years of non-doom? Just a series of lucky accidents. Now we’re really doomed. I mean it!”

To contact the reporter on this story: Richard Rubin in Washington at rrubin12@bloomberg.net

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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