Central Bankers Then and Now

The Fed is Poisoning the Economy

“The Fed can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent.” –What Keynes should have said. Last week I made two related points: The agonizingly slow economic growth and rapid increase in inequality the United States has experienced over the past decade aren’t the cause of constant Fed intervention; they are a direct consequence of …

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It’s Different This Time

“The four most dangerous words in investing are: It’s different this time.” —Sir John Templeton “The 12 most dangerous words in investing are, ‘The four most dangerous words in investing are: It’s different this time.’ ” —Michael Batnick Whatever, read my lips: It’s different this time. From the time the United States was organized as …

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Fed Folly and its Practical Effects

“The… task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.” –Friedrich von Hayek Adam Smith was the first to name the “the invisible hand” so felicitously, but he was hardly the first to notice the existence of such a phenomenon. The idea of an …

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The Red-Tape Fed

The long and deep recession of 1930–33 finally ended in March of 1933. Once it ended, the Fed, believing that the economy could now—and should now—fend for itself, backed off. The result was one of the most powerful economic expansions in U.S. history, an expansion that lasted three decades. The short and shallow recession of …

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The Fed’s Act of Cowardice

We are talking about America’s Monetary Keystone Kops, who have, since 1987 (when Greenspan became chair of the Federal Reserve), been masquerading as central bankers. (Or maybe it’s the other way ‘round, it’s hard to tell.) The Fed’s finest hour was saving Bear Stearns while wiping out its equity holders and senior management—that is, the …

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Bernanke’s Blunders

We’ve assessed the successes and failures of central bankers in the 1930s. Now let’s turn our attention to their modern counterparts. I will argue that, unlike the earlier central bankers, whose record was mixed but a net positive, our modern central bankers have done almost everything wrong—and for 30 years running. To wit: Like the …

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Why Gold Had to Go

The “gold standard,” which prevailed in the developed world for many decades, simply means that some fraction of a country’s paper currency has to be backed by—that is, convertible into—gold. In the U.S. that fraction was 40 percent. Since a government on the gold standard can’t print money without increasing its gold reserves, society-destroying events …

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Central Bankers Then and Now, Part III

Scholars of the Great Depression typically blame policymakers of the 1930s for failing to do four things: They failed to rein in the 1920s economic boom, allowing its collapse to lead to the worst depression in US history. Following the Crash of ’29, they failed to inject sufficient liquidity into the economy, causing it to …

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The Great Depression vs. the Great Recession

Subsequent to the Global Financial Crisis, U.S. GDP has grown, in the aggregate, 37%. During the period of the Great Depression, U.S. GDP grew, in the aggregate, 40%. In the 1930s, the U.S. economy declined 26% between 1930 and 1933 and unemployment rose to 25%. During the Great Recession the U.S. economy declined 3% and …

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Central Bankers Then and Now

Not that anyone cares, but in these pages I’ve been highly critical of the “unconventional” policies pursued by every central banker on the planet since the Financial Crisis. My arguments have been many and simple: The policies not only didn’t work, they actually stunted economic growth. The policies were “immoral” in the sense that they …

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