‘The Fed seems to know only two things: how to inflate bubbles and how to studiously not recognize them.’
… what these investors are expressing should trouble all of us: they have almost no confidence in the Federal Reserve or the economics profession. And for good reason. It’s impressive that the Fed and many economists have successfully predicted the path of interest rates and inflation in the wake of the worst financial crisis in a generation. But neither the central bank nor academicians managed to predict or prevent the crisis in the first place. The failure dwarfs the accomplishment.
The Fed’s track record is out-and-out abysmal. Fund managers remember only too well how Alan Greenspan encouraged the stock bubble of the late 1990s, convincing investors that he would bail them out if the stock market dropped severely. Worse, Mr. Greenspan urged people in 2004 to buy homes by taking out adjustable rate mortgages. Then the central bank did nothing to curtail the housing bubble. (Whether the Fed kept rates too low for too long is hotly debated; in Mr. Greenspan’s defense, the credit bubble kept inflating after the Fed started raising rates.)
The Fed began its lender-of-last-resort role in 2007, but did little to avoid or minimize the financial crisis. Once it hit, it did the right thing to flood the markets with money, but — along with the Treasury and a passive Justice Department — let banks and top executives escape penalty.