Saturday, January 23, 2010

Bernanke and the Deep Blue Sea

The says that a number of senators like Inhofe (R-Okla.), Sessions (R-Ala.), Feingold (D-Wis.), Sanders (I-Vt.), Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Boxer (D-Calif) oppose Ben Bernanke's renomination to head the Fed, while Harry Reid supports his reappointment. Bernanke did what Milton Friedman said the Fed should do in the face of a banking collpase: re-inflate by creating reserves. Right before he died, Friedman wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal applauding the post 2001 re-inflation for eliminating a recession. Seven years later the banking system collapsed because of that re-inflation, and Bernanke followed the same prescription, arguing that the real problem was lack of regulation. There have been banking collapses 50 thousand times and in 50 thousand different circumstances in world history, and to claim that regulating derivatives will in the future eliminate them is a lame joke.

The choice between Bernanke and an appointment by the left-wing extremists in the Senate is a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea. I prefer Bernanke to whatever oceanic corruption the Democrats have on offer. But we need to be thinking of alternatives to the Fed, the source of the current economic problems.

The Federal Reserve Bank was established in 1913 in circumstances that are properly called veiled. Its purpose was expanded in 1932, when the gold standard was abolished, again without public discussion. Since 1913 there has been less innovation, slower growth and, since the ultimate elimination of the gold standard in 1971, a stagnant real hourly wage. The past 42 years of almost no growth in the real hourly wage, the best indicator of the welfare of American workers, contrasts with significant growth between 1800 and 1970. The economy was globalized in the 19th century, labor unions came and went (union density is at the same level now as it was early in the 20th century) but innovation proceeded apace and workers flocked here from all over the world, enjoying generations of upward mobility.

The upward mobility ended in 1970, following the final elimination of restrictions on the Fed's power to print money, the Vietnam War and the explosion of regulation in the 1960s and 1970s, LBJ's "great society". Since 1970, Wall Street's activities have considerably expanded, driving almost all other major corporations out of New York City. Hedge funds have flourished. Income inequality has grown. The S&P 500 has grown from 85.02 in 1970 to 1092 today, nearly 13-fold, while consumer prices have grown 5.5 fold. The difference is a wealth transfer from consumers to stock holders that the Fed and the banking system have facilitated. At the same time, the federal and state governments combined have tripled relative to national income. The Fed has facilitated expansion of non-value-producing sectors, banking, Wall Street, real estate speculation and government, at the expense of the value-producing private sector.

The extreme left politicians who would replace Bernanke would accelerate the Fed's destructive subsidies to the wealthy. Bernie Sanders and Barbara Boxer would like to increase the Fed's rate of monetary expansion, subsidizing destructive government programs along with the bankers they claim to detest. The average American would see their pensions, savings and wages decimated while wealthy politicians, real estate investors, corrupt political cronies and "limousine liberals" wallow in the hot loot, the savings of widows and workers' blood.

Recently, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson told me that he favors competition between monetary regimes. This would be a major improvement as those who prefer to save and receive pensions in modes other than the dollar could do so. As well, insurance companies could begin to provide the option of retirement annuities in gold if they began to lend at interest with repayment in gold.

1 comment:

Josiah Schmidt said...

According to, Gary Johnson was known for:

* Vetoing 750 bills (more than all the vetoes of the other 49 Governors combined) and over 1000 line items.
* Reducing taxes $123 million annually.
* Shrinking the size of state government by 1200 employees.
* Eliminating the state’s budget deficit.
* Leaving the state government with all-time high bond ratings.
* Enacting major welfare reform, which cut government welfare spending by 30%.
* Shifting state Medicaid to managed care.
* Bringing the New Mexico state government and the Navajo nation leadership together to finally resolve century-old disputes over water, gaming, and other issues.
* Privatizing half of the prisons in the state.
* Shooting down campaign finance legislation.
* Attracting many new private and parochial schools into the state.
* Repealing the Little Davis-Bacon Act, thereby allowing non-unionized labor the ability to be employed in construction of new schools and other public works.
* Overseeing the construction of 500 miles of new, four-lane highway (designed, financed, built, and guaranteed by the private sector).
* Running 100% positive campaigns, never mentioning his opponents once in print or ads.
* Coming from outside of politics with no political machine behind him to beat a former Republican Governor in the Republican primaries and then unseat an incumbent Democrat Governor in the general election by a 10 point victory margin, even at a time when Democrats outnumbered Republicans 2-1 in the state.