The Federal Reserve exists to convince people that someone is in charge of an economy that exists because nobody is in charge of it.
The invisible hand is vastly more real than the Chair-man behind the curtain who claims to be controlling it.
Econ prediction – rates certainly won’t go up. If they do rise it means Bernanke has lost touch with reality, which is vastly more frightening than mere inflation. When Bernanke said “Subprime is contained” last year he probably knew he was wrong. In spite of the fact that he isn’t as powerful as everybody seems to think it still makes me nervous when he’s incorrect and doesn’t intend to be.
In my view, Bernanke’s job is simply to prevent deflationary spirals. A view supported by his paper
Deflation: Making Sure “It” Doesn’t Happen Here
Deflationary spirals appear to be somewhat inevitable after a credit bubble of this magnitude combined with global rebalancing on a scale never before seen. This reminds me of campaigning politicians who promise to fix the economy as if they have some magical lever made from repurposed silver bullets.
Image is called “Bood the Magician”
Paul Krugman is a fairly left leaning guy, economically speaking, so we’re oceans apart in certain assumptions, but he has a way of summarizing things I’m hugely respectful of:
“And while we’re at it, let’s try to open our minds to the possibility that those who choose to rent rather than buy can still share in the American dream — and still have a stake in the nation’s future.”
One thing that really bothers me is the notion that the American dream has anything to do with wealth. Wealthy people do carry the burden of taxes but I like to think that one poor person who does a lot of little things for an entire lifetime can have an equally significant positive impact, even if it takes a generation for that slightly less tangible impact to be felt. And of course some would argue that sending politicians large sums of money in the form of taxes is detrimental to society.
This new job is pretty all consuming. Though nine hours of intense thought every day has contributed to my ability to think. I started a monthly newsletter on housing and economics which I email to friends and I’m going to start posting it here to keep things somewhat fresh.