For investors having a rooting interest in the price of gold, the catalyst for a recovery may be in sight. “Buy gold if you believe in math,” Brent Johnson, CEO of Santiago Capital, recently told CNBC viewers.
Johnson says central banks are printing money faster than gold is being pulled from the ground, so the gold price must go up. Johnson is on the right track, but central banks have partners in the money creation business—commercial banks. And while the FFed has been huffing and puffing and blowing up its balance sheet, banks have been licking their wounds and laying low. Money has been cheap on Wall Street the last five years, but hard to find on Main Street.
Professor Steve Hanke, professor of Applied Economics at Johns Hopkins University, explains that the Fed creates roughly 15% of the money supply (what he calls “state money”), while the banks create “bank money,” which is the remaining 85% of the money supply.
Higher interest rates actually provide banks the incentive to lend. So while investors worry about a Fed taper and higher rates, it is exactly what is needed to spur lending, employment, and money creation.
The Fed has pumped itself up, but not much has happened outside of Wall Street. However, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), during their October meeting, talked of making a significant policy change that might unleash a torrent of liquidity through the commercial banking system.
Alan Blinder pointed out in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that the meeting minutes included a discussion of excess reserves and “[M]ost participants thought that a reduction by the Board of Governors in the interest rate paid on excess reserves could be worth considering at some stage.”
Blinder was once the vice chairman at the Fed, so when he interprets the minutes’ tea leaves to mean the voting members “love the idea,” he’s probably right. Of course “at some stage” could mean anytime, and there’s plenty of room in the word “reduction”—25 basis points worth anyway. Maybe more if you subscribe to Blinder’s idea of banks paying a fee to keep excess reserves at the central bank.
Commercial banks are required a keep a certain amount of money on deposit at the Fed based upon how much they hold in customer deposits. Banking being a leveraged business, bankers don’t normally keep any more money than they have to at the Fed so they can use the money to make loans or buy securities and earn interest. Anything extra they keep at the Fed is called excess reserves.
Source Gold Survival Guide