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Weekly Commentary: Resurrecting M2

Weekly Commentary: Resurrecting M2

This week’s disappointing ISM reports dominated business headlines: “US Manufacturing Survey Shows Worst Reading in a Decade.” “U.S. Factory Gauge Hits 10-Year Low as World Slowdown Widens.” “U.S. Manufacturers Experience Worst Month Since 2007-2009 Great Recession.” “ISM Services Index Hits Three-Year Low, Missing All Estimates.” “Services Survey Shows Economy is Weaker Than Expected Amid Slowdown Fears.”

A Google news search for recent “money supply” articles yields slim pickings: Apparently, China’s Xinhua news agency is now the go-to source for U.S. money supply insight: “U.S. Fed’s M2 Money Stock Rises as Market Bets Another Rate Cut.” Other top results included, “Egypt’s M2 Money Supply Rises 11.78% Year-On-Year in August,” and “Serbia’s M3 Money Supply Grows 12.3% y/y in August.”

Not that many years ago economists and market analysts followed weekly money supply data with keen interest. Rapid monetary expansion was, after all, indicative of excessive Credit growth and attendant inflationary pressures. Slowing money growth would indicate a tightening of lending conditions or waning demand for Credit. The Federal Reserve and global central bankers duly monitored the monetary aggregates as an indication of the appropriateness of monetary policies. Indeed, money and Credit had been a prime focus since the establishment of central banks. Throughout its history, the Federal Reserve was expected to prudently manage the “money” supply to ensure stable prices.  

M2 “money” supply surged $70.2 billion last week, the strongest advance since the week of January 11, 2016. Notable to be sure, but apparently not worthy of a headline or article. Moreover, M2 was up $262 billion in 10-weeks and $575 billion over 22 weeks. The Fed’s weekly H.6 “Money Stock and Debt Measures” report presented a 13-week seasonally-adjusted M2 growth rate of 8.5%.

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