'The Fed's Increasingly Grandiose Role'
George Will has noted, the curious journalistic acceptance of the Fed's increased powers "...semantic infiltration of journalism by language that ratifies the Fed's increasingly grandiose role. A Financial Times column on Yellen, now Bernanke's presumptive successor, described her as "poised to take the tiller of the US economy." Oh? The economy has a tiller? And with it the Fed chairman can steer the economy? Who knew?" Free markets with tillers. Interesting concept, and it has been cleverly and stealthily slipped passed the goal line.
Nothing in the Fed's mandate directs the Fed to "tiller" the economy. Its new powers are a result of confiscatory creep. Stock market going up, all good. Gone, or ignored, is any language that encourages savings, defends the value of the dollar, or, as mentioned in its mission statement, provides "moderate" interest rates.
Will continues. "A touch on the tiller here, a nimble reversal there -- these express the fatal conceit of an institution that considers itself capable of, and responsible for, fine-tuning the nation's $15.7 trillion economy." Add in the planted comment here by the regional Fed chair, and then the counter-comment there, and we have management via choreographed press releases. Just like a helicopter parent never leaves the child, the Fed of late never leaves the markets alone. Pledged now to "iron out" the cycles, it also seems geared to guarantee robust stock returns each year. All aboard for the historically low bond and dividend yields. What could go wrong?
The Federal Reserve has given Obama his biggest gift, Quantitative Easing and a sharply higher stock market (9000 points off the lows of the financial crisis). This makes the Fed, acknowledged or not, a political ally of the Obama administration.
The Federal Reserve policy must be considered political to an extent. It serves the president in the most gracious ways. Will enumerates, "Easing serves two Obama goals. It enables the growth of government by deferring its costs with cheap borrowing. And it redistributes wealth: By punishing savers, it effectively transfers wealth from them to borrowers." Take that, Joe the Plumber.
Obama really has no economic policy. He never did. What he has had is the most accommodative and self-aggrandizing Federal Reserve in the history of the Fed. The "creature" from Jekyll Island moniker does not give this leviathan its due.
ZIRP (zero interest rates) has been the biggest boon to the economy during the Obama administration. The autonomous Fed, which has ever increased its role since the 07-08 crisis, has taken "don't let a crisis go to waste" line to the max. It makes Rahm Emmanuel's reference to such lame and miniscule.
Just as Reagan said there is nothing more permanent than a temporary government program, it can be now said that there is nothing more permanent than a temporary emergency monetary stimulus. Where, exactly, is the emergency now?
"The Fed has become the model of applied progressivism, under which power flows to clever regulators who operate independent of political control" says Will.
Just as agencies and czars have adulterated our form of representative government, the Federal Reserve has become a central planner. If one controls the cost of money, one controls the cost of everything. Enter ultra-liberal, wealth-redistributing, dollar-killing Janet Yellen. Never has a ZIRP been exited. Japan still has theirs going on the second decade. Now take the Federal Reserve Chairmanship... please, as Henny Youngman would say, and allow Mr. Bernanke the only "exit" he ever had in mind.