A member of Congress who has been pushing for more transparency, including an audit, of the Federal Reserve for years says the announcement today the quasi-governmental agency is going to print more money to try to help the U.S. economy isn’t surprising.
Nor is it smart, said U.S. Rep. Ron Paul.
“No one is surprised by the Fed’s action today to inject even more money into the economy through additional asset purchases. The Fed’s only solution for every problem is to print more money and provide more liquidity,” Paul said.
“Mr. Bernanke and Fed governors appear not to understand that our current economic malaise resulted directly because of the excessive credit the Fed already pumped into the system.”
The Federal Reserve said today it is launching its third attempt to revive the U.S. economy, once again by printing more money.
According to a report in CNN, this edition of the program will involve having the government buy $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities per month – with no set end date.
The report says the central bank’s objective is to keep interest rates low, and thus trigger more spending and more hiring.
The Fed has been trying to impact the economy just about since Barack Obama took over the White House, but its usual tool – lowering interest rates – is ineffective now since those rates have been approaching zero for most of that time.
“For all of its vaunted policy tools, the Fed now finds itself repeating the same basic action over and over in an attempt to prime the economy with more debt and credit,” Paul said. “But this latest decision to provide more quantitative easing will only prolong our economic stagnation, corrupt market signals, and encourage even more misallocation and malinvestment of resources.
“Rather than stimulating a real recovery by focusing on a strong dollar and market interest rates, the Fed’s announcement today shows a disastrous detachment from reality on the part of our central bank. Any further quantitative easing from the Fed, in whatever form, will only make our next economic crash that much more serious,” he warned.
Paul for years has advocated a full audit of the Federal Reserve, which routinely shrouds its actions in secrecy. Just this week, the U.S. House on a 327-98 vote adopted a bill that would set an audit process in motion.
It now is going to the Senate, where Sen. Harry Reid previously has been receptive to the idea, although there’s no word whether he’ll take time for it now.
U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas
Paul long has argued that the Federal Reserve simply is illegal. Some of his concerns have revolved around Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, which assigns to Congress the right to coin money.
There is no mention in the Constitution of a central bank, and it wasn’t until the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 that the Fed was created.
Paul previously has said, “Throughout its nearly 100-year history, the Federal Reserve has presided over the near-complete destruction of the United States dollar. Since 1913 the dollar has lost over 95 percent of its purchasing power, aided and abetted by the Federal Reserve’s loose monetary policy.”
And he’s proposed repeatedly the idea of auditing the Fed to determine exactly what it has been doing and then begin making corrections. With a book titled “End the Fed,” he’s made no secret of his ultimate goal.
That the Fed is at least partly to blame for the financial problems that have developed in the U.S. seems not to be in dispute.
Bernanke said it was the Fed that caused the Great Depression, the worldwide economic downturn that persisted from 1929 until about 1939. It was the longest and worst depression ever experienced by the industrialized Western world. While originating in the U.S., it ended up causing drastic declines in output, severe unemployment and acute deflation in virtually every country on earth. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “the Great Depression ranks second only to the Civil War as the gravest crisis in American history.”
At a Nov. 8, 2002, conference to honor economist Milton Friedman’s 90th birthday, Bernanke, then a Federal Reserve governor, gave a speech at Friedman’s old home base, the University of Chicago.
After citing how Friedman and a co-author documented the Fed’s continual contraction of the money supply during the Depression and its aftermath – and the subsequent abandonment of the gold standard by many nations in order to stop the devastating monetary contraction – Bernanke added:
Before the creation of the Federal Reserve, Friedman and [Anna] Schwartz noted, bank panics were typically handled by banks themselves – for example, through urban consortiums of private banks called clearinghouses. If a run on one or more banks in a city began, the clearinghouse might declare a suspension of payments, meaning that, temporarily, deposits would not be convertible into cash. Larger, stronger banks would then take the lead, first, in determining that the banks under attack were in fact fundamentally solvent, and second, in lending cash to those banks that needed to meet withdrawals. Though not an entirely satisfactory solution – the suspension of payments for several weeks was a significant hardship for the public – the system of suspension of payments usually prevented local banking panics from spreading or persisting. Large, solvent banks had an incentive to participate in curing panics because they knew that an unchecked panic might ultimately threaten their own deposits.
It was in large part to improve the management of banking panics that the Federal Reserve was created in 1913. However, as Friedman and Schwartz discuss in some detail, in the early 1930s the Federal Reserve did not serve that function. The problem within the Fed was largely doctrinal: Fed officials appeared to subscribe to Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon’s infamous “liquidationist” thesis, that weeding out “weak” banks was a harsh but necessary prerequisite to the recovery of the banking system. Moreover, most of the failing banks were small banks (as opposed to what we would now call money-center banks) and not members of the Federal Reserve System. Thus the Fed saw no particular need to try to stem the panics. At the same time, the large banks – which would have intervened before the founding of the Fed – felt that protecting their smaller brethren was no longer their responsibility. Indeed, since the large banks felt confident that the Fed would protect them if necessary, the weeding out of small competitors was a positive good, from their point of view.
In short, according to Friedman and Schwartz, because of institutional changes and misguided doctrines, the banking panics of the Great Contraction were much more severe and widespread than would have normally occurred during a downturn. …
History records that in 1913 President Woodrow Wilson approved the Federal Reserve Act but later reflected that his actions “unwittingly ruined my country.”
Wilson said that since the U.S. system of credit is concentrated in the hands of a few, “we have become … one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the civilized world.”