Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Federal Reserve: U.S. Headed for Insolvency

« William Dudley, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, maintains inflation is not a problem in the U.S.
(Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

March 29, 2011 | From
Fed presidents Fisher and Dudley offer two very different opinions on the economy. By Robert Morley
A voting member of the Federal Reserve Bank just told an audience in Germany that America is heading toward insolvency and that the Fed has printed too much money. Another member told an audience in Queens that things are good and that the cost of living really isn’t rising. Which is it?
Speaking at the University of Frankfurt on March 22, Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher told audience members that America has too much debt and, in his opinion, is at a “tipping point.”
Republicans and Democrats are currently bickering over a paltry $20 billion or so in spending cuts while the country is going a further $1.6 trillion into debt this year. It is the equivalent of arguing over the bar tab on the Titanic, as America’s former comptroller recently said.
Fisher agrees: “If we continue down on the path on which the fiscal authorities put us, we will become insolvent. The question is when.”
However, Fisher thinks that cooler heads will prevail and that Congress will eventually make the right decisions. Debt-cutting measures will be painful, he said. He hopes a budget agreement will be agreed upon before the debt ceiling is reached in April. But if a plan to reduce the deficit isn’t met, he said, “I look at this as a tipping point.”
Concerning the Federal Reserve’s policy of quantitative easing (money printing shell game), he said, “The Fed has done enough, if not too much, and we should do no more. In my opinion no further accommodation is necessary after June either by tapering off the bottom of treasuries or by adding another tranche of purchases outright.”
Fisher also warned that the speculative style of trading that helped fuel the 2008 financial crisis was back, implying that the Fed’s money printing was leading to new bubbles, possibly in key commodities such as oil.
Fisher is seen as a bit of an outsider, so don’t take his opinion as a policy change from the Fed.
Only 10 days earlier, New York Fed President William Dudley tried to convince an audience in Queens that inflation really wasn’t a problem. After being bombarded with questions, he tried to put inflation in a broader economic context, which according to Reuters, only made things worse.
“When was the last time, sir, that you went grocery shopping?” asked one audience member.
Dudley tried to counter by explaining to the crowd that even though things like food and energy are rising, the Fed considers them too volatile to be a good measure of inflation. He then tried to explain that while some things are rising in price, others are falling.
Stretching for a real-world example, he said: “Today you can buy an iPad 2 that costs the same as an iPad 1 that is twice as powerful. You have to look at the prices of all things.”
To which one audience member shouted, “I can’t eat an iPad.”
The exchange illustrated how out of touch the Federal Reserve is. Unlike for those on Wall Street, the iPad is a luxury that many Americans can’t afford.
One of the Federal Reserve’s jobs is to keep inflation under control. But what good is targeting inflation if you don’t target the things that everyday people need to survive—things like food and fuel prices? Plus, when it comes to feeding their family and paying the utilities, people don’t care that that iPad 2 is twice as powerful as the slightly older version.
The recent speeches by Fisher and Dudley also illustrate the failure of the Federal Reserve. The dollar is plummeting in value, the price of basic necessities is shooting up, and the economy is in tatters. And instead of opposing unsustainable government deficits—it is accommodating them.
According to the Federal Reserve: America could be headed for insolvency, or lasting recovery. So which is it