Real QE3 stimulus is negative

The true nature of the easing efforts is only revealed after taking into account other government activities.

By Stock Traders Daily Dec 26, 2012 10:46AM
Hisham Ibrahim CorbisThe stimulative efforts of the so-called QE3 -- the third round of quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve -- are not what they appear to be. The Federal Open Market Committee is prepared to buy about $85 billion worth of U.S. Treasuries -- iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond Fund (TLT) -- and mortgaged backed securities. We all know that. But when the left hand is shuffling the cups one way we need to pay attention to what the right hand is doing or this shell game could get the best of us. In this case, at the same time the FOMC is buying bonds, the U.S. Treasury is selling them -- and when the government sells bonds it actually drains liquidity from the system.

Looking back to QE2, I wrote "Pulling Back the Curtain on the Wizard," which described the true stimulative nature of QE2. That program sought to buy about $100 billion of bonds per month, but after the offsets by the U.S. Treasury (including maturing bonds) the net stimulus was only about $30 billion per month. This is much lower than the face value of the program of $100 billion, but it still worked to induce the wealth effect and stimulate equity markets.

Arguably, that has caused a 'valuation bubble' in our equity markets, but today's discussion is on the real net stimulus of QE3. This time there is more than just one other hand at play in this shell game. Not only does the U.S. Treasury act as a drain on liquidity this time, but fiscal policy is now poised to do the same.

Breakdown of QE3
Without the inclusion of the U.S. Treasury the stimulus would be the face value of the program, $85 billion. But when we include the offsets by the U.S. Treasury, the net stimulus changes to $11.5 billion per month. This reduced stimulus estimate is no surprise because QE3 is lower than QE2 by $15 billion a month anyway. But again, another important factor is at play. Fiscal policy will now also drain money from the system, and although no one knows what that will look like yet we can deduce a best case scenario now.

Assuming a best-case scenario of a $200 billion headwind this year, which would have been negotiated down from about $600 billion as we know, the monthly headwind of fiscal policy would be about $16.66 billion. This further offsets the $11.5 billion that came after the U.S. Treasury was included in the equation and changes the net real stimulus of QE3 to a negative number. The true net stimulus of QE3 is -5.1 billion per month with a best-case scenario in mind.

The table below offers tangible estimates and comparisons:


Monthly Stimulus



Face Value



After US Treasury



After Fiscal Headwinds



Net Stimulus




For details and more information please visit Stock Traders Daily.

Tags: TLT
Dec 26, 2012 11:45AM
I never received any QE1, QE2 or QE3. The Government owes me big money. Hand it over!
Dec 26, 2012 12:46PM
Dec 26, 2012 12:45PM
Very interesting reading...Providing all Ducks are on the Pond and most are swimmin"G" in a row.?
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