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January 30, 2012

Central bank policy is obscuring market values, Warsh tells Stanford audience.

By: Chris Powell, Secretary/Treasurer, GATA

Dear Friend of GATA and Gold:

Central banks are now so heavily influencing asset prices that investors are unable to ascertain market values, former Federal Reserve Board of Governors member Kevin M. Warsh told the Stanford University Institute for Economic Policy Research tonight.

This influence is especially evident, Warsh said, with the Fed’s purchase of government bonds, which has made it impossible for investors to use bond prices to learn anything about markets.

Warsh, who disclosed during GATA’s freedom-of-information litigation with the Fed in 2009 that the central bank has secret gold swap arrangements with foreign banks (http://www.gata.org/files/GATAFedResponse-09-17-2009.pdf), added that the Fed is trying to do too much and the rest of the government not enough to encourage economic growth.

While he said nothing explicitly about gold, Warsh seemed to come pretty close to your secretary/treasurer’s observation almost four years ago that there are no markets anymore, just central bank interventions. (See http://www.gata.org/node/6241.)

Warsh was especially critical of the federal government’s efforts to stimulate the housing market. “The government-sponsored housing entities remain sources of vulnerability to the U.S. economy,” he said, “and repeated ad-hoc attempts to push Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to take greater risks at taxpayer expense are deeply counterproductive.” Such efforts have not succeeded, he added.

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image: flickr.com/my name’s axel