Janet Yellin may not remind people of the boisterous cartoon character Buzz Lightyear, but her fete accompli elevation to the Chairmanship of the Federal Reserve probably implies Quantitative Easing to Infinity and Beyond! The White House announced that President Obama would nominate her to succeed Ben Bernanke this Tuesday. This bears significance because she is seen as being a strong advocate of quashing intrest rates in order to support lower unemployment. She is a classic Keynesian to the core in that sense and will not be willing to “taper” QE under anything like the current circumstances.
I remember a younger version of myself arguing against massive government spending by asking “Where do you get the money for that!? Do you own the money tree?” Mrs. Yellin could now perhaps reply. “As a matter of fact I do.” QE may very well be the Keynesian Holy Grail. How can you argue against that? To a true believer, you can’t. But is the QE money tree really what we need right now?
The Fed will be looser for longer. The FOMC will continue to print money until the US economy creates enough jobs to reignite wage pressures and inflation, regardless of asset bubbles, or collateral damage along the way.
She would say the only key thing here to consider is aggregate demand. She reads right out of the Keynesian hymnal below.
If the current, elevated rate of unemployment is largely cyclical, then the straightforward solution is to take action to raise aggregate demand. If unemployment is instead substantially structural, some worry that attempts to raise aggregate demand will have little effect on unemployment and serve only to stoke inflation. I see the evidence as consistent with the view that the increase in unemployment since the onset of the Great Recession has been largely cyclical and not structural.
But isn’t all of this benevolent? We all need more walking around money. Well no, actually. We need our currency to maintain itself as a store of value, and we don’t need a guarunteed buyer to fuel and unendeing governmental spending-spree. Because really, after all is said and done, the only real limit the government will face on its ability to spend its way to omnipotence is a deep enough pool of finance. QE solves that conundrum. QE is that bottomless well to fund still more government largesse. Gonzalo Lira explains below.
In other words, the Democrats have finally realized that not only does QE mean they don’t have to rein in the deficit—QE also means that they can expand the deficit, confident that additional debt will be bought and paid for by the Federal Reserve. Confident that additional debt will be monetized by the Federal Reserve—because after all, that’s what QE is: Debt monetization, and everybody knows it.
So whether Janet Yellin intends to provide the jet fuel for statism or not, her cleaving to the false idol of aggregate demand as a measure of society’s prosperity leads her to follow a monetary policy accomodative to the perpetual enlargement of the burgoening state. She may or may not think about The Tea Party any more often than she thinks about where she should shop for her next box of Earl Grey. However, her elevation to the Chairmanship of The Federal Reserve creates a climate that will fuel the continued spending of money without any regards to whether our nation has the sources of revenue to make good on the use of credit.
To the Keynesians and to the big government political mavens in Washington, she is the Johnnie Appleseed in charge of an orchard of money trees. This will remain that way unless people start leaving paper investments such as bonds and currencies for commodities. At that point, as Mr. Lira explains, it becomes time to speak of other things…
Once the Democrats start to seriously push for more QE over and above the current $85 billion per month levels, it will only be a matter of time before the dollar is broken. How will the dollar break? I’ve argued since donkey’s ears that all that cash sloshing through the system because of QE will flow to commodities, sending them stratospherically higher, the rise in commodity prices cascading throughout the economy, until rising prices become a self-reinforcing phenomenon.
So does it really get that close to !Doom!? I’d say it depends. It depends on just how committed Fed Chair Yellin is in pushing QE to it’s rediculous mathematical asymptote. Will she really go Buzz Lightyear with the Keynesianism and push it to infinity and beyond?