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Deflation on the prowl as Bernanke shuts down his printing press

Mr Bernanke is taking the fateful decision to knock away the props of the mortgage market even though the M3 broad money supply has been contracting at an epic pace of 6pc since September. If M3 gives early warning of six to 12 months, beware. Mr Bernanke does not look at M3, disdaining such monetarist eccentricities as medieval sorcery. The M3 signal has certainly been erratic over the years. It can be distorted by portfolio shifts. But the refusal to even look at it has been the root of much trouble over the past four years. Had Mr Bernanke paid attention, he would have seen the need to pop the credit bubble earlier. He would also have avoided his catastrophic error in the early summer of 2008. Robert Hetzel, chief economist at the Richmond Fed, writes in Monetary Policy In The 2008-2009 Recession that central banks themselves triggered the crisis by failing to cut rates fast enough as the economy tanked from March to July 2008.

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