David Dayen: The Fed needs a revolution: Why America’s central bank is failing — and how we can make it work for us
A bold new plan with links to the Sanders campaign has proposed taking the Federal Reserve, at long last, public
One reality hanging over the presidential election and our politics in general is this: No matter what terrific plan a politician has for creating jobs and boosting wages, it must contend with the Federal Reserve’s ability to unilaterally counteract it. If the Fed decides higher wages risk inflation, they can raise interest rates and deliberately strangle economic growth, reversing the wage effect. Why come up with ways to grow the economy, then, if the Fed will react by intentionally slowing it?
The reason the Fed operates as a wet blanket on the economy has to do with who really controls the institution. If the desires of bankers and the rich outweigh the desires of laborers, then their fear of inflation (which cuts into their profits) will always take precedence over full employment. Former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke unwittingly gave a perfect example of that yesterday. Talking about how the Fed could institute “helicopter drops” of money to supplement federal spending and jump-start the economy, he stated from the outset, “no responsible government would ever literally drop money from the sky.” Who sets the boundaries of what’s “responsible” matters a great deal here.