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Philly Fed’s Plosser Goes Off the Reservation, Admits Monetary Policy is Impotent

Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant

That’s not omnipotent, that’s impotent as in the f**kers are shooting blanks and don’t even know it. Well Chuck Plosser knows it but if he keeps this up they’re going to drag him off and sequester him in the bunker they reserve for bad central bankers who can’t keep their mouths shut.

See The Scope and Responsibilities of Monetary Policy from Santiago, Chile yesterday:

Most economists now understand that in the long run, monetary policy determines only the level of prices and not the unemployment rate or other real variables.2 In this sense, it is monetary policy that has ultimate responsibility for the purchasing power of a nation’s fiat currency. Employment depends on many other more important factors, such as demographics, productivity, tax policy, and labor laws. Nevertheless, monetary policy can sometimes temporarily stimulate real economic activity in the short run, albeit with considerable uncertainty as to the timing and magnitude, what economists call the “long and variable lag.” Any boost to the real economy from stimulative monetary policy will eventually fade away as prices rise and the purchasing power of money erodes in response to the policy. Even the temporary benefit can be mitigated, or completely negated, if inflation expectations rise in reaction to the monetary accommodation.

Nonetheless, the notion persists that activist monetary policy can help stabilize the macroeconomy against a wide array of shocks, such as a sharp rise in the price of oil or a sharp drop in the price of housing. In my view, monetary policy’s ability to neutralize the real economic consequences of such shocks is actually quite limited. Successfully implementing such an economic stabilization policy requires predicting the state of the economy more than a year in advance and anticipating the nature, timing, and likely impact of future shocks. The truth is that economists simply do not possess the knowledge to make such forecasts with the degree of precision that would be needed to offset the economic shocks. Attempts to stabilize the economy will, more likely than not, end up providing stimulus when none is needed, or vice versa. It also risks distorting price signals and thus resource allocations, adding to instability. So asking monetary policy to do what it cannot do with aggressive attempts at stabilization can actually increase economic instability rather than reduce it.

I know you’re dying to know what footnote 2 is. It’s easy: "There are some extreme cases. If the monetary authority engineers a hyperinflation, it is likely to have deleterious effects on output and employment."

Now what monetary authority would ever intentionally do such a thing? 


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