Archive for May 13th, 2008
1. inflation targeting;
This strategy failed in the United States. The Federal Reserve lowered the federal funds rate drastically in an effort to counter the effects of the dot.com crash. In this, the Fed was successful. But it then maintained the rate at an extremely low level because inflation, measured by various variants of the CPI, stayed low and constant. In an inflation targeting regime this is taken to be feedback confirming that the interest rate is “right”. In the present instance, however, US consumer goods prices were being stabilised by competition from imports and the exchange rate policies of the countries of origin of those imports. American monetary policy was far too easy and led to the build-up of a serious asset price bubble, mainly in real estate, and an associated general deterioration in the quality of credit. The problems we now face are in large part due to this policy failure.
When monetary policy comes to involve choices of inflating or deflating, of favouring debtors or creditors, of selectively bailing out some and not others, of allowing or preventing banks to collude, no democratic country can leave these decisions to unelected technicians. The independence doctrine becomes impossible to uphold.
His argument is quite interesting.
In his new book, “Nudge,” written with University of Chicago Law School professor Cass Sunstein, he looks at how policymakers might go about doing that. He and Mr. Sunstein make an argument for policies that guide people toward making optimal decisions while not depriving them of their ability to make a choice. They call this idea “libertarian paternalism.” (“Why not paternal libertarianism?” asked Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman at a recent event. “It’s no worse,” Mr. Thaler replied.)
From Bernanke's standpoint, there are two major lessons to be learned from the Fed's reaction to the market crash of 1929 that are relevant today. The first is that the Fed should lower rates, not raise them, in the face of an economic contraction. The second is that the Fed must pay careful attention to the health of financial institutions, as lending plays a big role in economic growth.