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Is The End Nigh? Former FOMC Member Warns "The Fed Is Vulnerable"

Authored by former Fed member Kevin Warsh, originally posted op-ed via The Wall Street Journal,

The conduct of monetary policy in recent years has been deeply flawed. U.S. economic growth lags prior recoveries, falling short of forecasts and deteriorating in the most recent quarters. This week in Jackson Hole, Wyo., the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City hosts the world’s leading central bankers and academics to consider monetary reform. The task is timely and consequential, but the Fed needs a broader reform agenda.

Policy makers around the world neither predicted nor can adequately explain the reasons for current inflation readings below their targets. So it is puzzling that so many academics are pushing to raise the current 2% inflation target to a higher target of 3% or 4%. In the telling of the economics guild, the Fed’s leaders should descend from the Grand Tetons with supreme assurance that their latest monetary policy invention will remedy the economy’s ills.

The Fed’s leaders should not take the bait. Raising the inflation target is a bad idea being considered at the wrong time for the wrong reasons.

A new inflation target would undermine the Fed’s commitment to any policy framework. It would please the denizens of Wall Street who pine for still-looser Fed policy. And households would be understandably miffed to receive a new lecture on unconventional monetary policy—this one on the benefits of higher prices.

A change in inflation targets would also add to the growing list of excuses that rationalize the economic malaise: the persistent headwinds from the crisis of the prior decade, the high-sounding slogan of “secular stagnation,” and the convenient recent alibi of Brexit.

A numeric change in the inflation target isn’t real reform. It serves more as subterfuge to...


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