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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Dubious Language of Fed Chairman Bernanke

This morning Ben Bernanke said two very curious statements. First there's this one.

We have been bold or deliberate as circumstances demanded, but our objective remains constant: to restore a more stable financial and economic environment in which opportunity can again flourish and in which Americans’ hard work and creativity can receive their proper rewards.

Then, he said this.

Mr. President, I commit today to you and to the American people that, if confirmed by the Senate, I will work to the utmost of my abilities--with my colleagues at the Federal Reserve and alongside the Congress and the Administration--to help provide a solid foundation for growth and prosperity in an environment of price stability.

Now, it's hard to tell if Bernanke is simply unaware or if he knows what he is doing and hopes that no one will notice. After all, let's review what he's done since he took over. He's dropped the Fed Funds Rate about 4%. He's pumped well over a trillion dollars into the system. He's bought trillions of dollars worth of bonds to keep interest rates artificially low.

I am reminded of this statement by then President Bush.

I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system.

Let's think about this for a minute. Interest rates have been manipulated downward dramaticaly in the two years he has been the Chairman. He's pumped trillions into the economy in order to manipulate the money supply. He's bought trillions worth of bonds in order to artificially manipulate interest rates lower.

Does this sound like someone that is trying to create a "stable financial and economic environment"? Does this sound like the policies of someone trying to create "an environment for price stability". Generally, you don't create price stability by manipulating interest rates with trillions in bond purchases. Generally a "stable" financial environment isn't created by pumping trillions into the system using money created out of thin air. All of this may stimulate the economy but it certainly doesn't create an environment of stability.

The reality is that the Fed, more than any one or thing, has contributed to an environment of instability over the last decade and more. This has continued under Bernanke. I know that fed policy is very complicated and so most people really don't understand its effects. As such, the Chairman can engage in policies that do everything to create instability and yet claim they are working to create stability. It's still rather stunning when so brazenly the Chairman says something so false.

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