No Way to Escape for the Swiss National Bank

by Andreas Hoffmann and Gunther Schnabl It came as a surprise to many: the Swiss National Bank announced an exchange rate target. Accordingly, the Swiss franc will be held above the level of 1.20 francs per euro. Switzerland gives up a part of its sovereignty, when the ECB makes bad press in buying trash-rated euro … Continue reading No Way to Escape for the Swiss National Bank

Monetary Nationalism

by Jerry O’Driscoll I recently read Money, Markets and Sovereignty by Benn Steil and Manuel Hinds. I highly recommend it. The jacket blurb accurately summarizes the book’s importance: “Benn Steil and Manuel Hinds offer the most powerful defense of economic liberalism since F. A. Hayek published The Road to Serfdom more than sixty years ago.” … Continue reading Monetary Nationalism

Stark quits ECB

by Andreas Hoffmann This is good news for inflationists. I am shocked that Jürgen Stark quit his job at the European Central Bank. Usually it is a good thing when central bankers quit their job - or at least it does not make a difference. But Jürgen Stark is known as an inflation hawk. Jürgen Stark - … Continue reading Stark quits ECB

Is the Fed Independent?

by Mario Rizzo In today's Wall Street Journal frequent contributor to ThinkMarkets, Jerry O'Driscoll, has an important opinion piece, "Why the Fed Is Not Independent." There has been much discussion recently of the importance of "preserving" Fed independence. But is the Fed independent? Independent of what? Jerry concentrates on the link between the Fed's monetary … Continue reading Is the Fed Independent?

“Faith-Based” Money

by Jerry O'Driscoll   "The Weekend Interview" in the Wall Street Journal (A11) is with James Grant. A financial and monetary iconoclast, Grant favors gold over "faith-based" fiat money. He is a trenchant critic of the Fed's low interest-rate policies for "suppressing the proper functioning of the price system."   There is an Austrian flavor to Grant's … Continue reading “Faith-Based” Money

What Peter Diamond Doesn’t Understand

by Mario Rizzo I read with interest Peter A. Diamond’s opinion piece in The New York Times, “When a Nobel Prize Isn’t Enough.” Professor Diamond, by all accounts a very competent economist at MIT, is complaining that he really IS qualified to be a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. … Continue reading What Peter Diamond Doesn’t Understand

Are market rates below the natural rate again?

by Andreas Hoffmann and Mario Rizzo We know from Wicksell’s (1898) Interest and Prices, there is something important about the interest rate that balances saving and investment in an economy over time. This equilibrium interest rate is called the “natural rate of interest”. When market interest rates are below the natural rate, an unsustainable credit … Continue reading Are market rates below the natural rate again?

Does one size fit all?

by Andreas Hoffmann In a recent article in the WSJ, David Wessel sees a “fundamental problem” in the euro zone's one-size-fits-all policy. We know from Mundell (1961) that a one-size-fits-all monetary policy cannot guarantee low inflation and unemployment in all members of a heterogeneous currency area, given e.g. labor markets are not fully flexible as … Continue reading Does one size fit all?

Easy Money, Emerging Market Miracles and the Revival of Industrial Policies

by Andreas Hoffmann and Gunther Schnabl While most advanced economies continue to suffer from high unemployment and record debt levels, monetary expansions in the advanced economies feed a tsunami of carry trades, hiking asset and raw material prices and accelerating growth rates in emerging markets from Brazil over the Middle East to China. While capital … Continue reading Easy Money, Emerging Market Miracles and the Revival of Industrial Policies

Let Them Eat Chips

by Jerry O’Driscoll In today’s Wall Street Journal, David Wessel (“Capital” column, A5) revisits the question of whether current Fed policy is inflationary. He correctly states the Fed’s position is that inflation is caused by expectations. Inflation will stay low if people expect it to stay low.  He quotes Fed Chairman Bernanke: “The state of … Continue reading Let Them Eat Chips

Sand Castle Monetary Policy

by Mario Rizzo   Chairman Ben Bernanke says don’t blame the Fed for rapidly increasing commodity prices and probable bubbles forming in many investment markets throughout the world. I am just doing what is necessary for a recovery in the US and that is in the interests of the world. (See “Bernanke Defends US Policies” Wall … Continue reading Sand Castle Monetary Policy

Trouble ahead? Easy money vs. Turkey 1:0

by Andreas Hoffmann While the US, Japan and Europe slashed interest rates to unprecedented low levels, growth remains sluggish. Dealing with debt problems and supporting the recovery, the ECB provided money to quasi-finance the euro area problem children. Similarly the Federal Reserve is trying to jump start the economy and has been flooding markets with … Continue reading Trouble ahead? Easy money vs. Turkey 1:0

Hayekian Credit Booms

by Andreas Hoffmann Currently there is an interesting discussion in the blogosphere on how it is possible that in Hayek’s Prices and Production framework consumption and investment can increase at the same time. In my opinion they cannot, or only very slightly, but this is not a problem! Because, 1) the explanation is not one of the … Continue reading Hayekian Credit Booms

The Fed Has No Clothes

by Jerry O’Driscoll   Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser gave a major speech on Monday at the Central Bank of Chile.  In the polite language of central bankers, the speech constitutes a systematic criticism of not only current Fed policy but of the Fed’s entire response to the financial crisis. Plosser’s speech updates Milton Friedman’s 1967 … Continue reading The Fed Has No Clothes

Taylor, Krugman and Quantitative Easing

by Chidem Kurdas In two substantial New York Review of Books articles, Paul Krugman and Robin Wells offer their views on various explanations of the property bubble and ways to get out of the slump.  On the latter front, they advocate aggressive deficit spending by the federal government and  quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve— … Continue reading Taylor, Krugman and Quantitative Easing

Reform the Monetary System?

by Andreas Hoffmann* Most economists agree that the latest crisis was caused by risk-taking incentives (competition for profits, wrong ratings, false policies, moral hazard) along with financial innovations that allowed banks to lend excessively. While monetary policy prevented, for better or worse, a collapse of the financial system, an increasing number of economists also agree … Continue reading Reform the Monetary System?

Up, Up and Away (Again)

by Bill Butos Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is pushing for another significant round of “quantitative easing” – now dubbed “QE2” by Fed observers – on the grounds that the economy’s response to simulative macro policies since 2008 has been anemic.  What the economy needs, this thinking goes, is some inflation.  While much of the … Continue reading Up, Up and Away (Again)