Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Is the Fed still pursuing the Greenspan Doctrine?

In a biting post (hat tip NakedCapitalism), Dean Baker talks about 'Mr. Incompetent', Alan Greenspan, and looks at his track record including missing the housing bubble and championing the campaign to fix the debt.

His post stopped short though of asking the question of is the Fed still pursuing the Greenspan Doctrine.  Under this doctrine, bankers are free to seek profits however they want and if they blow up the economy the taxpayers will pay to clean up the mess.

There is strong reason to believe that the Fed is still pursuing this doctrine.

For example, Ben Bernanke is leading the charge in stressing how important it is to address the fiscal cliff by taking action that will reduce the size of the deficit.

No where does Mr. Bernanke suggest that the easiest way to reduce the size of the deficit is to have the banking system make a donation of its current holdings of US government debt to the US Treasury.  (Regular readers know that the donation reflects paying the true cost of deposit insurance and the debt that the US government has taken on as a result of cleaning up the mess made by the banks).

So we are lead to believe that Mr. Bernanke favors either a tax increase or spending cuts.

In a NakedCapitalism post, Bill Black explains how and why Econ 101 students are taught that cutting government spending in a recession makes the economy worse.  He cites as an example, the US adopting austerity during the Great Depression and the experience of Greece and Spain during the current financial crisis.

Since Mr. Bernanke is a Great Depression scholar, surely he knows that adopting austerity will trigger a slowdown in the economy.

So, unless the Fed is still pursuing the Greenspan Doctrine, what excuse is there for Mr. Bernanke leading the charge on the fiscal cliff?

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