Don’t Blame the Fed for Holding Back the Recovery

Rick Perry must not spend much time in banks.

How else can you interpret his accusation that Ben Bernanke, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, “is almost treasonous” for “printing money”?

He must think that banks spend every dollar they get from the Fed. He must think that banks depend solely on the Fed for funding. Because that’s the only way that “printing money” — if that’s even what you could call what the Fed does — could result in any damage for the United States.

Rick Perry lives in the Bizarro World of Banking.

Here on Planet Earth, U.S. banks are holding $1.6 trillion in excess reserves. That’s $1.6 trillion that they’re not spending or loaning or investing. It’s just sitting there. Not doing anything for the economy.

Just to give you a little context, before this recession, excess reserves had never been higher than $20 billion.

In other words, most of the money that Perry is so angry about is just minding its own business. Nobody is spending it. Nobody is borrowing it. It’s not contributing to inflation or the depreciation of the dollar. It’s not eroding your purchasing power.   Continue reading “Don’t Blame the Fed for Holding Back the Recovery”

I Hate Being Right

No, seriously. Because it’s always about bad things.

Me, back in early December:

Hence “QE2,” shorthand for the second round of quantitative easing. By buying long-term bonds, Bernanke hopes to push down long-term interest rates. Low rates encourage borrowing, which increases spending — and prices.

The problem with QE2 isn’t that we’re printing too much money. It’s where that money will go. It should go to workers, who will spend it and stimulate the economy. But it won’t.

The New York Times, today, summarizing the economic consensus:

The Federal Reserve’s experimental effort to spur a recovery by purchasing vast quantities of federal debt has pumped up the stock market, reduced the cost of American exports and allowed companies to borrow money at lower interest rates.
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But most Americans are not feeling the difference…   Continue reading “I Hate Being Right”