Tag: Fed

Join Jim and Greg as they discuss the gut-wrenching loss of another 6.6 million jobs over the past week but also note an economic silver lining. They also react to Dr. Fauci suggesting people permanently stop shaking hands and then muse about what should replace it. And they lose their appetites as they discuss another way China is a breeding ground for illnesses.

Paul Volcker, R.I.P.

 

Paul Volcker died today at age 92. A colossus of a man both physically (at 6’7″) and professionally, it sometimes seemed to me his achievements at the Federal Reserve were eclipsed by “maestro” Alan Greenspan who succeeded him in 1987. A full recounting of his career is impossible, of course, and he did much after leaving the Fed, a job he never asked for but served when asked.

In his biography of Greenspan, The Man Who Knew, Sebastian Mallaby notes that Volcker was deeply influenced by a speech in Belgrade in September 1979, weeks after his appointment. Arthur Burns gave the speech, a former Fed chair himself, who claimed that the independence of the Fed was over because monetary experts had too many questions to speak with one voice against political pressures. Mallaby argues that the desire to wring inflation out of the US system, characterized by the Saturday Night Special announcement that Fed policy was being fundamentally changed, was Volcker’s attempt to prove Burns wrong. (As I was writing this, Mallaby has released a version of this point in his retrospective of Volcker today.) Thus began the long disinflation that was the achievement of Volcker’s career.

The Deep Myth at the Heart of the Gold Standard

 

shutterstock_126878537_goldOne political/policy fallout from the Global Financial Crisis — and the accompanying monetary easing and rise in public debt — has been the reemergence of the gold standard as something the center-right talks about. Unlike the fiat money US dollar, a gold-backed dollar — a dollar linked to something tangible — would prevent monetary mischief by government.

On a recent EconTalk podcast, this issue came up as host Russ Roberts chatted with Yuval Harari of Hebrew University, the author of Sapiens.

Harari: Modern money has no value in itself. But as long as everybody believes in the same authority — let’s say, the Federal Reserve in the United States — and everybody trusts the stories that are told by the Federal Reserve and by the Treasury and by the President, then this trust enables them to trade effectively. At the most basic level, I think all money is made of trust. It can be in physical terms, money can be gold or silver or paper or even electronic data. But at a deeper level, all money is made simply of trust.

Why Don’t the Candidates Ever Talk about Money?

 

150915104617-reagan-library-2015-debate-stage-exlarge-169While there were some great moments in the latest GOP debate, and some terrific individual performances — Carly Fiorina seemed to grab all the buzz in the aftermath — one thing that barely came up was the economy. It was very much like the first debate.

The day after the candidates faced off, Fed chair Janet Yellen announced a stand-pat, no-interest-rate-liftoff policy. Now, I don’t expect presidential candidates to be Fed watchers. But Yellen did raise the issue of a still-soft economy, despite all the QE and zero-interest-rate policies. And I think Yellen was right. There will be a time to normalize Fed target rates. But not yet.

That said, it would have been a good thing if any of the candidates talked about our money. A strong and steady dollar — the world’s unit of account (in theory) — is pro-growth, as we saw in the ’60s, ’80s, and ’90s. A collapsing greenback smothers growth, as we saw in the 2000s.

Member Post

 

What qualifies me as the most-principled, least-electable conservative in the Republican field? As a third-generation Californian, my connections offer the GOP the best chance of winning my state’s tantalizing 55 electoral votes. And my political experience here in the Golden State speaks for itself: I’m not only president of the Bay Area Republicans Club but I’m also the […]

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