Hallelujah! Ben Bernanke Gets Some Guts
For those of you who find watching Federal Reserve press conferences boring but still want to know what yesterday means, let me suggest an exciting alternative.
Go watch the music video to the song "We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister. Now imagine Dee Snider as Ben Bernanke and Mark Metcalf's killjoy dad as the political establishment, and listen as Snider/Bernanke shouts:
We're not gonna take it!
No, we ain't gonna take it!
We're not gonna take it anymore!
After sitting on the sidelines and letting politicians tell him how to do his job, Bernanke is finally reasserting the Fed's independence. He's had enough of incompetent politicians and pundits telling him that 8% unemployment is somehow acceptable and that 1% inflation is somehow dangerous.
And it's about darn time.
The Fed has a dual mandate to promote employment and price stability. The former has been way below target, and the latter far too high. The obvious thing to do in such a situation is loosen monetary policy. But, unfortunately, economics has taken a backseat to politicians wishing to appear "responsible" on inflation.
But no more; Bernanke's through with this (lowercase "F") foolishness. And it appears the rest of the Federal Open Market Committee is, too: The vote was 11-1. Pundits be damned.
The most exciting thing about the announcement was that the Fed's commitment is open-ended. It won't stop until the labor market improves, and even then the policy will continue until the economy has improved to the FOMC's liking.
What is the FOMC's liking? Bernanke won't say, which is part of the policy's diabolical (and I mean that lovingly) brilliance. The vague and open-ended nature of the program is clandestinely designed to inspire fear of inflation. Since you'll spend money today if you think it might be worth less tomorrow, this fear is stimulative for our depressed output economy.
But that's not all. Bernanke said that the FOMC is prepared to do even more if this doesn't work. That might mean (I can only dream) an increase in the inflation target from 2% to 3%.
The bottom line is that Bernanke has gone rogue, and our economy is better for it.
Don't fight the Fed
For savers, I think "The beatings will continue until morale improves" pretty much sums it up. Bernanke clearly doesn't want you to keep money on the sidelines. CD rates will likely become even more pitiful after yesterday's announcement, as will bond yields.
That leaves two asset classes that stand to benefit: stocks and real estate -- and especially stocks having to do with real estate. My favorite play here is actually Berkshire Hathaway (NYS: BRK.A) (NYS: BRK.B) , a CAPScall that I also own. Berkshire has exposure to housing and mortgages through ownership of Benjamin Moore, Clayton Homes, and large chunks of Wells Fargo, among other investments. But at the same time, it's not entirely wedded to housing, and you get Buffett to boot.
But truthfully, there is no need to get fancy here. Simply socking away money for the long run in index funds like the SPDR S&P 500 (NYS: SPY) or "Diamonds" -- the SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average (NYS: DIA) ETF -- will be enough to benefit from the policy because its impact is so broad. And that's precisely the point.
The article Hallelujah! Ben Bernanke Gets Some Guts originally appeared on Fool.com.Fool contributor Chris Baines is a value investor. Follow him on Twitter, where he goes by @askchrisbaines. Chris' stock picks and pans have outperformed 96% of players on CAPS. He owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway.
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