James Pethokoukis

Barney Frank: Let’s pack the Fed with doves

October 30, 2009

Here is Barney Frank at yesterday’s House Financial Services hearing:

I had a study done. Ninety percent of Federal Open Market Committee [dissents] are from regional bank presidents and 90 percent of the 90 percent are for higher interest rates.

Oil prices, inflation and a double-dip recession

October 26, 2009

Andy Xie paints a dire scenario:

Central banks around the world have released massive amounts of money in response to the current financial crisis … But the proposition that a weak economy means low inflation is false. The stagflation of the 1970s proves it.

Paul Volcker: Obama’s forgotten man

October 21, 2009

The most devastating part of the NYTimes piece on Paul Volcker’s lack of influence on WH economic policy comes into the very last sentence of the piece:

Will Bernanke save the dollar like Volcker did?

October 9, 2009

David Goldman over at the Inner Workings blog, notes a key anniversary:

Inflation had crossed into double digits after four years of mismanagement by the Carter administration. The gold price was rising (and about to hit an all-time record when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan the following Christmas). America’s international position had collapsed; the European elites believed that America would lose the Cold War; America was in deep recession even while inflation soar. Volcker had no choice but to raise the federal funds rate to 15%. The dollar stabilized but the US economy went into free fall.

Ron Paul and the Fed

September 29, 2009

First of all, thanks to my good friend Stan Collender over at the Capital Gains and Games blog who has jumped to my defense (and that of Bruce Bartlett) vs. the misguided Ron Paul supporters who interpret any criticism of the congressman’s ideas as proof of membership of some global conspiracy.

The Fed as a growth driver

September 28, 2009

Does the Obama administration care more about creating wealth or redistributing wealth? Maybe the strategy is for the WH to worry about the latter and let the Fed take care of the former. Scott Grannis, the Calfia Beach Pundit, makes an interesting observation (bold is mine):

Hey, Ron Paul, end the Fed … as financial regulator

September 28, 2009

If not for unprecedented actions by the Ben Bernanke-led Federal Reserve, the United States economy might be mired in a depression.

Is system risk regulation even possible?

September 24, 2009

Arthur Levitt, former chairman of the SEC, wants a systemic risk regulator who can serve as an “early warning system” and “director appropriate regulatory agencies to implement action.” (This is his House Fin Serv testimony.) I am not sure, ultimately, even the WH thinks this kind of prescience is possible. Anyone who could do that should be running money rather than serving in government. Better to tweak capital and leverage rules and force the big banks to show how they could be unwound — the “living will” idea.

The Fed as systemic risk regulator

September 24, 2009

In his testimony before the House Financial  Services Committee, economist Mark Zandi draws light to a problem I have been talking about and then offers a solution:

Dodd vs. the White House on financial reform

September 21, 2009

Well, this is going to  be fun. Chris Dodd is headed toward a tough reelection campaign. So he stays at the head of the Banking commitee instead of moving to Health since a) that is where the action will be in 2010 and b) it is a great place to raise tons of money. He wants a non-Fed superregulator while the WH wants the Fed in that role. And now the Blue Dogs are cooking up their own reform plan. The whole thing will be at the epicenter of a white-hot lobbying campaign. And then there are the personalities; Dodd, Frank, Bair, Bernanke, Geithner. The politics are every bit as treacherous  as those of healthcare.