This blog post originally appeared on RealMoney Silver on Nov. 5 at 7:28 a.m. EDT.
"Higher stock prices will boost consumer wealth and help increase confidence, which can also spur spending." -- Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, Washington Postop-ed
In Chairman Bernanke's
op-ed piece on Wednesday, he cited that easy money will promote economic growth by:
lowering mortgage rates, making housing more affordable and allowing homeowners to refinance; and
reducing corporate bond rates, which will likely encourage investment.
To begin with, it remains unclear to me whether QE2 will generate much lower mortgage and corporate bond rates from here. But for this exercise, let's dive into the Chairman's statement that higher stocks might improve personal consumption expenditures.
Miller Tabak's Dan Greenhaus wrote yesterday that he is "sympathetic to his (Bernanke's) view ... but the math is less cooperative."
According to the
other research reports
, consumers have historically spent 3 to 4 cents out of every additional dollar of stock market wealth.
Currently, households own nearly $11 trillion in equities, ETFs and mutual funds (again, a hat tip to Dan).
Let's assume that the Fed's move has been responsible for a 10% rise in stock prices, serving to increase the aggregate value of equities by $1.1 trillion. Applying the historic stock market wealth multiplier mentioned in numerous research pieces on the subject would only translate to a modest $40 billion rise (or thereabouts) in personal consumption expenditures in a U.S. economy with a
that exceeds $14.0 trillion.
If indeed it follows that the real impact of rising stock prices on personal consumption is trivial, where's the beef, Ben?
Doug Kass writes daily for
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Doug Kass is the general partner Seabreeze Partners Long/Short LP and Seabreeze Partners Long/Short Offshore LP. Under no circumstances does this information represent a recommendation to buy, sell or hold any security.