Randall Wray: The World’s Worst Central Banker

L. Randall Wray, a heterodox economist and proponent of Modern Monetary Theory who teaches economics at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, wrote an amusing account of a central banker get together in Argentina.  I have reprinted in full to motivate those who read it to travel to Wray’s blog, where the original can be found and which contains much else of political and social interest. The full text can be found below the break.

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Complacency triumphs over catastrophe

The New York Times provides this report on the Fed and its plans:

And at the end of June, the Federal Reserve finished its work and rested.

The nation’s central bank said Wednesday that it would complete the planned purchase of $600 billion in Treasury securities next week as scheduled, and then suspend its three-year-old economic rescue campaign, leaving in place the aid it already is providing but doing nothing more, for now, to bolster growth.

“The economic recovery is continuing at a moderate pace, though somewhat more slowly than the committee had expected,” the Fed said in a statement. “The committee expects the pace of recovery to pick up over coming quarters and the unemployment rate to resume its gradual decline.”

Shadow States compares the official U3 and U6 unemployment rates to its adjusted rate:

Shadow Stats and Official Unemployment Rates

I think it is rather clear that the Federal Reserve Bank, the Obama administration and the current Congress have not done enough to address the employment problem in the United States. Nor, it seems, do they intend to do much about this human disaster.

Complacent and vicious — that’s the American way of government when it comes to providing for common folk.

Bankers running amok

Economist Dean Baker points to the world-befouling relationship between a modern and minimalist democracy and a modern central banking system:

The worst part of this story is that these fundamental decisions about economic policy are made by a small, secretive clique operating largely outside of the public’s purview. Central bank decisions on interest rates are likely to have far more impact on jobs and growth than any of the policies that are debated endlessly be [sic] elected parliaments. Yet, these decisions are made largely without democratic input.

In fairness, politicians bear much of the blame for this situation. They established institutional structures that largely place central banks beyond democratic control. There is probably no bank that is as insulated from the democratic process as the ECB, in large part because of its multinational structure, but all the central banks in wealthy countries now enjoy an extraordinary degree of independence from elected governments. In many countries they are even more independent than the judicial system.

Even worse, the politicians have actually mandated many central banks, like the ECB, to pursue an inflation target to the exclusion of other considerations. This gives the central bankers a license to throw millions of people out of work in order to chase their obsession with inflation.

Giving the central bankers free rein to chase inflation targets could perhaps be justified if they had a track record of success, but they don’t. The world economy stands to lose more than $10 trillion in output because of the central banks’ failure to stem the growth of the dangerous housing bubbles.

Baker’s story identifies more than a democracy deficit. It also points to a multifarious accountability deficit. Who, after all, policies the world’s central bankers? Anyone? They are not even constrained by the markets they would govern, at least they ignore the market system in the short-term. Over the longer-term….