Monday, June 22, 2009

An Imperial Fed?

Does the Obama administration really want to grant a virtual dictatorship to the Federal Reserve on monetary policy and banking oversight and regulation? The Fed already has enough trouble figuring out monetary policy. So this business about the central bank engaging in systemic-risk regulation and all the accompanying regulatory bells and whistles makes no sense.

A host of factors contributed to the credit crisis. But it was ultimately the Federal Reserve — with its bubblehead policy of ultra-cheap rates, monetary explosion, and a sinking dollar — that created it. The Fed was the chief culprit, just as it was ten years ago when it unleashed the tech bubble. It not only created this current crisis, it totally missed it as well. So why would anyone think it has the right stuff to fix it?

I say put Sheila Bair and the FDIC in charge of systemic-risk regulation. Make them totally independent from the Treasury. And while we’re at it, let’s get the Fed to return to a market-price rule for money, including gold, the dollar, bond rates, and commodities. This would mark a sorely needed return to the stable-money period that stretched from the early 1980s to the late 1990s. That was before the central bank embarked on this crazy pillar-to-post stop-go-stop-go monetary-meddling insanity that completely destabilized the economy and undermined the stock market.

On a related note, Washington is spending far too much time focusing on regulations right now. They’re not devoting nearly enough time to figuring out ways to truly grow our economy. It is a statist governmental approach. This great country of ours is thirsting for free-enterprise incentives and solutions. And as the latest polls show, Americans are becoming fed up with the out-of-control spending, borrowing, debt-creation, and tax increases.

What we need is serious economic growth. That is priority number one. What we need is risk-taking and entrepreneurship. Of course, we need transparent markets. But it is the growth message that is being overlooked.

And by the way, speaking of limits to reckless borrowing and debt, the Treasury is going to auction $104 billion in debt this week. That’s yet another record. The previous record was set a few weeks ago, which came a week after another record. Talk about the need for limits. This is total fiscal insanity. It needs to stop now.

But this Fed-dictatorship proposal is a terrible idea. The Fed needs to stick to its knitting and focus on stable money. That’s what’s been missing for ten years under Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke. That’s why we experienced two nasty recessions. And that’s why the stock market has gone nowhere.