Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bernanke, the Fed, and the Dollar

Joel Bowman writes:

All eyes, meanwhile, are on US Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who is widely expected to announce his next round of systematic dollar debasement a few days from now – a strategy otherwise known as “quantitative easing,” or “QE” for short. Trepid investors, unsure of what the value of the world’s reserve currency will be a week from now, sit on the sidelines, awaiting their cue from the man with the magic chopper...

Of course, the battle between central bank-created fiat money and its arch nemesis, gold, is not a new tale. Money meddlers have been tussling with the precious metal since the coin clipping days of the Romans. You’d think the bozos would have learned their lesson by now. But, as Bill likes to say, what one generation learns, the next is quick to forget...

“What’s happened since 1971,” the article wonders aloud, “when President Nixon formally broke the link between the dollar and gold? Higher average unemployment, slower growth, greater instability and a decline in the economy’s resilience.”

And that’s not all.

“For the period 1971 through 2009, unemployment averaged 6.2%, a full 1.5 percentage points above the 1947-67 average, and real growth rates averaged less than 3%. We have since experienced the three worst recessions since the end of World War II, with the unemployment rate averaging 8.5% in 1975, 9.7% in 1982, and above 9.5% for the past 14 months. During these 39 years in which the Fed was free to manipulate the value of the dollar, the consumer-price index rose, on average, 4.4% a year. That means that a dollar today buys only about one-sixth of the consumer goods it purchased in 1971.”...

So, what does a central banker do when one round of money printing doesn’t bring about the desired effect? Does he revisit first principles and reexamine the evidence? Or does he double down on his bets, defending his actions with increasingly zealous evangelism? Bernanke gives the world his answer on Wednesday.

read the essay

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