To 321gold home page

Home   Links   Editorials

Ben's Helicopter Drop is Here
...and it's Good for Gold

Joanne Nova
Nov 25, 2008

This is a graph to take your breath away.

St Louis Adjusted Monetary Base 1984-2008

This is what the start of hyperinflation would look like.

This is the US money base - the total of all currency and reserves of commercial banks in the central bank itself. It's the narrowest form of monetary aggregate (but getting fatter fast). Banks create loans from base money, so in theory this recent expansion should turn up in broader monetary aggregates in the future.

Ben Bernanke earned the nickname 'Helicopter Ben' in 2002 when he repeated Milton Freidman's comment that money could be "dropped from helicopters" if needed, to avert a deflationary depression. As a student of the great depression Bernanke has also been outspoken about his desire to avoid repeating the mistakes of that era, meaning he'd strongly prefer inflation to deflation.

Because the gold standard was dropped in 1971, money can be effectively created out of thin air. So it is no surprise to find that since September, newly created money has been raining from the sky. (Apparently this rain falls only on banks and a few large financials.)

The scale is unlike anything seen since the US Federal Reserve was formed in 1913. As the weeks progress on, all previous giant distortions shrink to goosebumps as the scale of the graph is redrawn.

In the two months after September 24th, over 550 billion new dollars were made from thin air and added to the US money base. That translates to 58% growth of the total US money base in just two months. (Annualized, that would be 350%. Watch out Zimbabwe.)

Most years, base money grows at around 1-2% per month and has only grown faster than 5% per month a few times. But the graph line 'went vertical' in September, (then got worse in November). The growth in money supply since then was larger than the total money base that existed in 1999, and it was twice as fast as the worst single month during the depths of the depression or the height of World War II.

St Louis Adjusted Monetary Base (AMBNS) 1918-2008

It's not often you can see one month changes that dominate a 100-year graph.

The potential rapid inflation in the US dollar that is likely to come from such a massive dilution of the currency can only be good for gold and silver - the only currencies that can't be easily diluted.

There are now potentially 100% more US dollars for each gold ounce than there were in total in 2003, and here's the scariest part: there are now 50% more US dollars in the monetary base than there were seven weeks ago.

Nov 24, 2008
Joanne Nova

Joanne Nova is from GoldNerds, a service for investors to compare the fundamentals of all 300 ASX precious metals stocks. Joanne is science based, a trader, and a Professional Speaker on radio, TV and conferences. Feedback is welcome,

This is not investment advice. It does not represent a recommendation to buy, sell or hold any security.

321gold Ltd