EconomicPolicyJournal.com: The Atlantic Attacks Ron Paul, Again
The Atlantic Attacks Ron Paul, Again
Not content with the beating The Atlantic's Megan McArdle has taken with her attack on Ron Paul, The Atlantic has sent another writer, Daniel Indiviglio, after Ron Paul. Indiviglio is The Atlantic's supposed heavy hitter. The Atlantic's bio of Indiviglio tells us that he graduated from Cornell where he triple majored in economics, philosophy and physics. Yet, this education kung fu master, who must absorb information as though it was being delivered intravenously, didn't, as will become obvious, even read Ron Paul's book, End the Fed, before attacking Paul's belief in ending the Fed.
Yes, Daniel Indiviglio has pronounced that we do indeed need the Fed. He reached this conclusion by, uh, asking the Fed.
This brings to mind a shoeshine man in San Francisco. He's at the corner of Market St. and 3rd. He seems a nice enough guy, but to him every pair of shoes needs a shine. I once passed by him just after buying a pair of new shoes, which I had on.
As I passed by, he pointed to my shoes and said "shin'em up". I stopped and asked him if he really thought they needed a shine. He studied the shoes carefully and indicated that they did. I told him I had just bought the shoes 10 minutes earlier. He shrugged his shoulders a little, looked at the shoes again and then gave me an expert's gaze indicating that the shoes needed a shine real bad.
As you pass through life there are certain things you need to keep in mind, never ask a shoeshine man if you need a shine, never ask a life insurance salesman if you need a more life insurance, and never ask a Fed member, former or current, if the Fed is needed.
Despite his kung fu triple belt education, Indiviglio has certainly not learned this lesson, at least, relative to the Fed. But it is clear he has heard that Ron Paul is going to be chairman of the House Domestic Monetary Policy Subcommittee, and he has heard that Ron Paul has written a book called, End the Fed.
It is not clear that Indiviglio has ever read the book, or that he even has it in his possession, since in telling us about his conclusion that we need the Fed, he does not address any of the issues raised by Congressman Paul in his book as to why the Fed should be ended. Zero.
Hey, why read a whole entire book, when you can call a couple of former Fed members and get the scoop without thinking or independently analyzing the subject?
Indiviglio starts his journey by going to the Fed web site, itself, and learning what the Fed responsibilities are. This "work" for his column must have taken all of three minutes. And after this work, he pretty much tells us he buys the propaganda. After listing four things the Fed does, he breaks the news to us:
So the first important point is that the Fed actually does a lot. You can't simply eliminate these functions.Of course, most of what Indiviglio lists as to what the Fed does comes down to money printing. Although, it does not appear as though Indiviglio gets this.
On his list of responsibilities he puts down for the Fed, he lists (and I list these a bit out of the order Indiviglio has presented them, to make a bit more sense of them) as number 1:
This is, of course, nothing more than money printing.
Conducting the nation's monetary policy by influencing the monetary and credit conditions in the economy in pursuit of maximum employment
, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.
Number 3 is:
The Fed does this by money printing, also. Though it's hard for me to think of what we just went through as maintaining stability.
Maintaining the stability of the financial system and containing systemic risk that may arise in financial markets
As for the Fed's money printing, itself, Indiviglio sums up:
The U.S. needs some monetary policy. The government has chosen to allow the Fed conduct monetary policy with significant independence, directing it to achieve two objectives: price stability and full employment. This means the Fed has a fair amount of freedom to play with interest rates, purchase assets, and even conduct emergency lending activities to achieve those ends.What needs to be realized here is that Indiviglio fails to discuss the business cycle distortions caused by the Fed's monetary policy, which are brought up in Ron Paul's book. Are we supposed to take Indiviglio's word that no discussion is required? Second, is he joking, when he claims, one of the reasons we need the Fed, is to help maintain full employment? Has he not checked? Does he not realize that despite the fact the Fed is now on QE2 that unemployment is over 9%?
Let's get back to his list of Fed responsibilities.
Number 2 is:
Supervising and regulating banking institutions to ensure the safety and soundness of the nation's banking and financial system and to protect the credit rights of consumers While the supervisory function could easily be handled by the private sector, there are certainly enough other agencies supervising banks, from the FDIC to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, that the Fed in a supervisory capacity is clearly a redundancy. As for the credit rights of the consumer, that's the new role created for the Fed as a result of the Dood-Frank Act. It has resulted in the agency headed by Elizabeth Warren. The only roles the Fed has as far as the CFSB is concerned is a supervisory role without any power, and the requirement that the Fed pay CFSB's bills.
Number 4 is:
This could be handled by any major global bank, no need for the Fed here.
Providing financial services
to depository institutions, the U.S. government, and foreign official institutions, including playing a major role in operating the nation's payments system
But enough of Indiviglio's own theorizing. Next, Indiviglio tells us that:
One of those former Fed officials, Richard Spillenkothen, is possibly the perfect person to explain why it's so important that the Fed is involved with supervision.He quotes, Spillenkothen:
Supervision is a way, not only to learn about what's going on in the financial system, what are the emerging points of systemic vulnerability, the principal emerging weaknesses, but it also gives the central bank an important role in settling financial and macroprudential policies. And all of that contributes to its broader financial stability responsibilities.Like I said, ask a barber if a bald man needs a hair cut, ask an auto salesman if you need a new car.
But, Indiviglio interprets Spillenkothen comment as if it actually means something significant:
So not only will supervision help the central bank to be more effective, but its background will help it to be an unusually well-informed supervisor.Please allow me to point out that Spillenkothen and Indiviglio are discussing the same Fed that specifically denied in 2004 that there was a housing bubble and has admitted that it pretty much missed the entire crisis, despite the fact that the damn thing was as obvious as the fact that Lady Gaga could do a better job managing the Fed.
As for this "stability", LOL, the Fed brings to the system, if I want Fed-type stability, I'll just start eating my breakfast, of bacon, eggs and orange juice, on a roller coaster.
But for entertainment value, you can't beat Indiviglio, he goes for more insight about the Fed to yet another Fed member:
Ask a muni bond salesman if you need muni bonds in your portfolio, ask a back surgeon if you need that herniated disc operated on.
When trying to understand the monetary policy function of the Fed, who better to talk to than the recently retired
vice chairman of the Board of Governors and 40-year Fed veteran
Donald Kohn? He now works as a Senior Fellow for the Brookings Institution. He believes that an independent central bank is the best way to control money supply to achieve price stability.
Indiviglio is writing about Fed price stability, I remind you, at a time that housing prices have collapsed and commodity prices are soaring. If this is stability, please serve me my next Bombay Saphire tonic with an earthquake.
He then quotes Kohn taking a swipe at gold:
The period of the 1920's was a period of major Fed money printing. There were no great surges in the supply of gold during that period. The huge swings in the accumulation and disaccumulation of above ground gold by various central banks during that period was a direct result of mad attempts at fixing the price of gold relative to various currencies. It had nothing to do with gold, qua gold. I could create the same situation today if I wanted to. Have the Fed start buying gold at $50,000 an ounce and gold is going to flow into the Fed. Have the Fed start selling gold at $10.00 an ounce and gold will most assuredly start flowing out of the Fed. It's the price fixing of gold by the Fed under these conditions that would cause the flows, nothing inherent in gold that would cause these flows. Kohn is a con, when he tries to suggest that the gold flows in the 1920's and 30's would have occurred without central banks price fixing gold relative to their currencies.
Periodic bank panics occurred under the gold standard; the Fed was founded to deal with those. And you're at the mercy of the supply of gold in the world
, and its distribution among countries
. You get situations as had occurred in the 1920s, when some countries accumulated large volumes of gold and they put downward pressure on the price levels of other countries that didn't have those large quantities of gold. It wasn't until after the U.S. went off the gold standard that we were able to begin emerging from the (Great) Depression.
As for the statement that the U.S. didn't come out of the Great Depression until after the U.S. went off the gold standard. The U.S. went off the gold standard, for all practical purposes, the minute the Federal Reserve started printing money. How about the U.S. would have never gotten into a Great Depression in the first place, if it wasn't for the insane manipulation of the money supply by the Fed? (See: America's Great Depression by Murray Rothbard)
Finally, Individiglio gives us a clue that he doesn't know what the hell he is talking about:
This is not meant to be an exhaustive argument proving that an independent central bank is utterly necessary.Uh, no kidding.
He concludes with this:
And remember, quibbling over what objectives at which a central bank should aim as a part of its monetary policy philosophy isn't an argument against Fed; it's argument for reform. If you were to get rid of the central bank entirely, then you would need to find other regulators and/or mechanisms to take over its essential responsibilities. And as the sources above explain, trying to do so could get sticky.This is further indication that Indiviglo hasn't read Ron Paul's book, since, in his book, Congressman Paul addresses the points Indiviglio makes here and explains why other regulators are not needed and the free market could handle the situation, without the crazed boom-bust cycles.
Methinks that the next time Indiviglio writes a column about whether or not we need the Fed, Indiviglio should at least read Ron Paul's book, directly answer the points Paul raises as to why we don't need the Fed, instead of just quoting from Fed regime loyalists on how the Fed is needed to maintain price stability, when housing prices have collapsed and destroyed families. Some stability.
Bottom line: Indiviglio is trying to serve us up Fed made Kool Aid in the middle of winter. Good luck with that Indiviglio, baby. At least Jim Jones had the sense to serve his Kool Aid in a tropical climate in the always humid Guyana.