Quantitative Easing II
November 03, 2010, 03:09 PM
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The Fed wants to concoct some more money: "Quantitative Easing II."

I don`t get it. To avoid a recession, the Fed dreamed up more money followed the bursting of the subprime bubble in the summer of 2007. The biggest effect of printing more money was, apparently, to drive up the price of gasoline to almost $5 per gallon in June 2008. (I recall with a shudder putting $87 worth of gas into my minivan — very stressful). In turn, high gas prices just killed home prices in long-commute exurbs, like Palmdale / Lancaster and the Inland Empire of California. It permanently changed the psychology of homebuyers, which had been, well, sure, gas costs $3 per gallon now, but it might well go back to $1.10 per gallon like it was a few years ago. In 2008, the psychology changed to: Uh, oh, $10 per gallon is going to happen one of these days, so I`d better not get stuck way out in the exurbs.

(By the way, I have a suspicion that the Peking Olympics had something to do with the spike in oil prices. Remember how diesel got much more expensive than gasoline? Were the Chinese stockpiling diesel for some reason? Anyway, it`s odd that trying to find an explanation for this bit of traumatic recent history has largely been forgotten.)

And that collapse of exurban home prices is what set in motion the collapse of Fannie/Freddie and Lehman in September 2008.

So, how is Quantitative Easing II going to make people want to buy all the foreclosed homes in the exurbs? I mean, I could see how high gas prices could do inner suburbs some good by making them more desirable than exurbs, but I can`t see how printing money solves the main housing problem: the exurbs. Maybe printing more money won`t inflate oil prices this time, but it sure seemed to last time.