March 15, 2022

The Failure of the Federal Reserve

The Democrat-dominated Fed increased the money supply and kept low interest rates, driving inflation to record highs.

“Make no mistake,” Joe Biden tells us, “inflation is largely the fault of [Vladimir] Putin.” Nancy Pelosi likewise blames Russia’s dictator, saying inflation “starts with Putin.” Democrat leaders, the rank-and-file, and their media parrots have begun dutifully talking about “Putin’s tax” and “Putin’s gas hike” to explain why inflation is anything but the responsibility of Democrats in Washington. The truth is they bear the lion’s share of the blame, which is why their strategy is the blame game.

If not the blame game, then it’s a version of Orwellian “Newspeak.”

Pelosi says: “It’s important to dispel some of those who say, ‘Well, it’s the government spending.’ No, it isn’t. The government spending is doing the exact reverse, reducing the national debt. It is not inflationary.” Biden likewise asserts: “The American people think the reason for inflation is the government is spending more money. Simply not true.”

The government running a massive deficit by spending more than it takes in is actually “reducing the national debt.” The government introducing trillions of dollars in economic demand while actively hampering supply is actually “not inflationary.”

This is what passes for logic and economics for Democrats.

Unfortunately, it is this logic that is being used by the other major culprit in inflation: the Federal Reserve. Wonder why? Well, among the 780 economists across the entire Federal Reserve System, Democrats outnumber Republicans more than 10 to one. On the Board of Governors, that ratio is an appalling 48.5 to one. Joe Manchin’s opposition to Biden’s latest Fed nominee is great news and all, but it’s a drop in the bucket.

This rank politicization of the Fed is a big reason why its policies are driven by Keynesian economics, which in far too simplistic terms is the idea that government spending is the engine of economic growth. Demand is everything; supply is an afterthought. Hence, for example, multiple rounds of government “stimulus” checks to load up people’s bank accounts and get them motivated to go shopping.

Where the Fed comes into play is financing this spending spree by essentially printing more money and keeping interest rates at or near zero. Just like supply and demand, those things work in tandem.

One of the great violations of the English language in recent years is the euphemism “quantitative easing,” which makes increasing the money supply through balance sheet games sound like conceptual economic theory about which you shouldn’t worry your little head. Investopedia defines it as “a form of unconventional monetary policy in which a central bank purchases longer-term securities from the open market in order to increase the money supply and encourage lending and investment.” It entered the popular lexicon after the financial collapse of 2008 (also caused by Democrats). But it’s played a big part in the Fed’s response to the coronavirus pandemic too.

Two years ago today, the Federal Reserve announced $700 billion in quantitative easing. In June 2020, Investopedia says, “The Fed extended its program, committing to buy at least $80 billion a month in Treasuries and $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities, until further notice.” That’s a whole lot of money being continuously added to the economy, all chasing a finite supply of goods and services while devaluing our currency.

The result has been 40-year records in inflation with no end in sight, notwithstanding Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s false assertion throughout much of 2021 that inflation was “transitory.”

The Fed is meeting this week on the second major factor — interest rates. Keeping interest rates at or near zero has made running up the national debt (you know, the debt Pelosi says is going down) that much easier. The flip side is there is virtually no way for the Fed to raise interest rates now without causing major economic upheaval.

Home and auto prices are rising drastically because debt is cheap, and the Fed doesn’t want another housing collapse like the one 14 years ago. And for the government, financing our national debt is not nearly as painful with low interest rates. Just wait until the can-kickers in Congress are forced to work on a budget that includes paying higher interest rates for $30 trillion in national debt.

Part of the Federal Reserve’s fundamental problem is its mandate to pursue inflation of 2%. Well, that is until 2020, when it began targeting higher inflation to offset previously below-target levels. Inflation is a constant tax on Americans because our dollars are worth less this year than last year. The Fed’s policy is also just asking for trouble because rather than allow the market to operate freely, the Fed is always manipulating the market. One wrong move — especially compounded by stubbornness or political expediency, as in the last two years — can swing the economy wildly in the wrong direction.

Ultimately, the Federal Reserve has painted itself into a corner, largely because it’s an ideologically homogenous cadre of Democrats more focused on Party spending priorities and political issues like climate change and equity. Every American is paying dearly for this dereliction and failure.

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