Back in December 2014, just before the ECB officially launched its initial phase of QE in which it would monetize government bonds, Mario Draghi was asked a very direct question: what types of assets could the ECB buy as part of its quantitative easing program. He responded, "we discussed all assets but gold."
The reason for his tongue in cheek response was because over the prior few weeks speculation had arisen that gold could be part of the central bank’s asset purchases after Yves Mersch, a member of the ECB executive board and former Governor of the Central Bank of Luxembourg, said on November 17 that "theoretically the ECB could purchase other assets such as gold, shares, ETFs to fulfill its promise of adopting further unconventional measures to counter a longer period of low inflation."
Mario Draghi promptly shot down that idea.
But according to a provocative paper released by none other than Pimco's strategist Harley Bassman, Yves Mersch's inadvertent peek into what central bankers are thinking, may have been on to something.
In "Rumpelstiltskin at the Fed", Bassman goes down the well-trodden path of proposing Fed asset purchases as the last ditch panacea for the US economy, however instead of buying bonds, or stocks, or crude oil, Bassman has a truly original idea: "the Fed should unleash a massive Fed gold purchase program that could echo a Depression-era effort that effectively boosted the U.S. economy."
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