Category Archives: Federal Reserve Chairman

The Fed’s “Inflation Target” is Impoverishing American Workers

Powell   Fed Chair Jerome Powell apparently doesn’t see the pernicious effects of inflation

At one time, the Federal Reserve’s sole mandate was to maintain stable prices and to “fight inflation.”  To the Fed, the financial press, and most everyone else “inflation” means rising prices instead of its original and true definition as an increase in the money supply.  Rising prices are a consequence – a very painful consequence – of money printing.

Naturally, the Fed and all other central bankers prefer the definition of inflation as a rise in prices which insidiously hides the fact that they, being the issuers of currency, are the real culprit for increased prices.

Be that as it may, the common understanding of inflation as rising prices has always been seen as pernicious and destructive to an economy and living standards.  In the perverted world of modern economics, however, the idea of inflation as an intrinsic evil has been turned on its head and monetary authorities the world over now have “inflation targets” which they hope to attain.

America’s central bank is right in line with this lunacy, as it has been reported that at the Fed’s “May minutes” it wants “a temporary period of inflation modestly above 2 percent [which] would be consistent with the Committee’s symmetric inflation objective.”* Translated into understandable verbiage, the Fed wants everyone to pay at least 2% higher prices for the goods they buy.

Yes, by some crazed thinking US monetary officials believe that consumers paying higher prices is somehow good for economic activity and standards of living!  Of course, anyone with a modicum of sense can see that this is absurd and that those who espouse such policy should be laughed at and summarily locked up in an asylum!  Yet, this is now standard policy, not just with the Fed, but with the ECU and other central banks.

The baneful consequence of this economic quackery is being felt by American workers as admitted by the Labor Department.  Instead of spurring expansion, inflation is eating into and depressing wages:

For workers in ‘production and

nonsupervisory” positions, the value

of the average paycheck has actually

declined in the past year.  For those

workers, average ‘real wages’ – a

measure of pay that takes inflation

into account fell – from $22.62 in

May 2017 to $22.59 in May of 2018.*

While the decline in nominal wages is not significant, the manner in which the government now calculates inflation has been skewed to understate its impact.  Under the previous calculation, the current US inflation rate is probably closer to 5%.

Wage stagnation is not new.  Average real wages peaked more than 40 years ago and have fallen in real terms ever since.  Not surprisingly, the drop in wages in real terms began soon after the US went off the last vestiges of the gold standard in 1971.

As sound theory has long ago demonstrated, the idea of economic growth through money printing is absurd.  Increases in living standards and real wages can only come about through savings, investment, and capital accumulation.  Workers who have superior tools and equipment are obviously more productive than those that do not. Yet, capital goods have to be produced and production takes place over time.  Savings allow for the production process.

The level of wages are also closely linked to savings.  The greater savings an economy has enables entrepreneurs to bid for workers and increase wage rates.  This is how wages rise – competition for labor among businessmen pushes up wage rates.  The more savings entrepreneurs have, the higher they can bid for employees.

How and why wage rates rise and how employment is created had been understood by economists of yesteryear.  Today, however, the profession is dominated by “inflationists” and monetary cranks who believe that nearly every economic problem can be solved by the printing press.  Anyone who holds such ideas cannot be taken seriously.

While the Federal Reserve may think an inflation target will create prosperity, the reality for real wages is quite the opposite.  The laws of economic science have not been repealed.  An inflation target will lead to the impoverishment of not just workers, but lower living standards for all.

inflation target.jpg

*Jeff Stein and Andrew van Dam, “For the Biggest Group of American Workers, Wages Aren’t Just Flat.  They’re Falling.”  The Washington Post.  16 June 2018 A10.

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

https://antoniusaquinas.com

Donald and the “Maestro”

trump-ii            greenspan-ii

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who was once laudably referred to as “Maestro” for his supposed astute stewardship of U.S. monetary policy, commented last week on the nation’s current political and economic climate:

We’re not in a stable equilibrium.  I hope

we can all find a way out because this too

great a country to be undermined, by how should

I say it, crazies.*

Well, if there is anyone who knows how to “undermine” an economy, it is the Maestro, since it was his “crazed” policies that brought about the 2008 financial crisis which ushered in the Great Recession that continues to this very day.

In a demonstration of how truly clueless Greenspan is about economic conditions, he cautioned that the U.S. is “headed toward stagflation – a combination of weak demand and elevated inflation.” Memo to the Maestro: stagflation is already here and has been for quite a while, especially when real economic gauges are used instead of the phony baloney numbers routinely lied about by the BLS and other corrupt state agencies.

The “crazies” that Greenspan refers to are, of course, the “deplorable” Trump supporters and The Donald himself, who the Maestro contends is responsible for “the worst economic and political environment that I’ve ever been remotely related to.” Oh, poor Alan has to suffer through an election where one of the candidates has not been approved by the ruling class.  Too bad.

Instead of carping about the current state of political affairs which, at least financially, he and his successor, Helicopter Ben Bernanke, largely contributed to, Greenspan should be grateful that he has had no reprisals for the financial crimes, chaos, and misery that he has afflicted upon the world.  Instead of significant jail time or worse, Greenspan is free to pontificate on current events, receiving hefty financial remuneration, and just as important for top members of the governing elite, ego-enhancing hosannas!

While Ben Bernanke has been a lifelong committed Keynesian and inflationist, Alan Greenspan, at least in his younger days as a member of Ayn Rand’s circle, was a free marketer who spoke positively about the efficacy and moral soundness of a gold standard.  That he abandoned these beliefs to go over to the Dark Side is further cause for retributive justice.

Greenspan’s betrayal was similar to those economists of the 1930s (Lionel Robbins most notable) who were followers of the teachings of Mises and Hayek, yet were swept away by the fanciful Keynesian deluge of the day and abandoned their economic senses and conscious for similar allurements which seduced the Maestro.  Had these economists as well as Greenspan stuck to their original principles, the world may not be in its current financial mess.

While Greenspan was lamenting the state of political affairs, the head “crazy,” Donald Trump, commented on the Maestro’s former place of employment.  Unlike the Maestro, the financial media, and just about every other politician, Trump had some perceptive things to say about the nation’s central bank, showing again that the billionaire businessman’s political acumen is quite good:

The Fed is being totally controlled politically because

Obama wants to go out with no stock market disruptions.**

The Republican Presidential hopeful could have easily added that the Fed’s policy is being deliberately carried out to ensure his Democratic opponent’s victory this fall.  A booming stock market is perceived by most as an indication of a vibrant economy.

Trump does not buy the supposed “independence” of the Fed from political influence and the conduct of monetary policy solely for the well being of the economy:

If it was a choice between the right decision and a political

decision… The Fed would choose the political decision.

Throughout the campaign, Trump’s instincts on political and economic matters have been quite good and hopefully if he does become chief executive those instincts will translate into positive change.

A Clinton Presidency would assuredly mean a continuation of the ruinous policies of Greenspan and his successors.  The election of Donald Trump could not only mean a new direction in monetary policy, but the public demotion of the likes of Alan Greenspan who will hopefully fade into the sunset never to be heard or seen from again.

*Rich Miller, “Greenspan Worries That ‘Crazies’ Will Undermine the U.S. System.”  Bloomberg.  14 September 2016.  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-14/greenspan-worries-that-crazies-will-undermine-the-u-s-system

**Tyler Durden, “Trump Slams ‘Totally Politically Controlled’ Fed, Sees No Rate Hike Until Obama Has Left.”  Zero Hedge. 15 September 2016.  http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-09-15/trumps-slams-totally-politically-controlled-fed-sees-no-rate-hike-until-obama-has-le

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

https://antoniusaquinas.com/