Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Fed "oops" we can see coming

Congress and the administration have basically emerged from the debt ceiling battle mutually hamstrung so far as doing anything about the economy goes -- not that they were showing much promise anyhow. Fed Chairman Bernanke knows that only the Fed can prevent the Great Recession from lasting a decade or more.  I think he also knows that low interest rates or more "quantitative easing" is just string pushing. It does not reach enough into the problem of demand killing excessive household, (and for that matter government), debt. A secondary, but also important, problem is the job killing unfavorable balance of trade. Realistically, the only answer will be inflating the debts away while simultaneously weakening the foreign exchange value of the dollar thereby making American made products more competitive both for export and domestic consumption. High inflation is hard on savers and folks on fixed incomes, but the economy wasn't going get bailed out without somebody paying a price. Politically, it probably doesn't hurt that one of the big losers would be the Chinese government. Moreover, Chairman Bernanke would be the last to try to take it out instead from the hides of the Wall Street speculators largely responsible for the Great Recession in the first place even if he could, which he mostly can't. So he will talk about slack and output gaps and temporary factors while pumping up the money supply like a blimp. Then when inflation surges out of control he will say basically "Oops, didn't quite see that coming".

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