Power & Market

Prepare for What’s Coming

07/03/2022Robert Aro

In 1944 Mises wrote: Omnipotent Government: The Rise of Total State and Total War. He provided a first-hand account of the horrors of government, something America’s founding fathers were familiar with all too well.

How bad it will get does not have an easy answer. It depends on the time frame, context being highly subjective. The freedom-liberty crowd  prepares with home security, firearms safety training, purchasing hard assets, buying the dip, homesteading etc. Rather than write a prescriptive list of ways to prepare for the potential outcomes, it may be more fruitful to explain the trajectory of things to come under global socialism and the anti-capitalist central banking system.

News headlines prepare us for what’s ahead. On Wednesday, Reuters reported subtle, but grim news from the latest European Central Bank meeting:

The era of ultra low inflation that preceded the pandemic is unlikely to return and central banks need to adjust to significantly higher price growth expectations…

Price and monetary inflation are within control of central banks and world governments. Stop increasing the money supply and this “inflation problem” would correct itself. Yet that is not on anyone’s agenda. When they say the unpreceded “era of ultra low inflation” is coming to an end, we should assume this means forever. 

From the same European forum, Fox News reported a quote of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell admitting:

I think we now understand better how little we understand about inflation… No, honestly, this was unpredictable.


The U.S. economy is actually in pretty good shape.

Quite outlandish, especially with headlines two weeks ago from media outlets like Newsweek reporting:

The U.S. is Already in Recession—If The Atlanta Fed Is Right

How to prepare is up to each individual. The certainty ahead lies in the motivation of our central planners, who, whether pretending to not understand, or are intentionally being deceptive, the outcome will be the same.

Whether inflation lowers to 2%, or stays elevated, nothing changes. They have a definite play book they will stick to until the bitter end.

Should CPI or PCE inflation miraculously reach 2%, the Fed will use this opportunity to expand the balance sheet once a recession or market crash hits. Should inflation readings never get this low, a new narrative will be used, perhaps that we’re in a recession so they must stimulate the economy no matter the cost.

Economic truth, the long-run, or the “good of society” doesn’t matter to the central planner. They are too well insulated to be significantly impacted by any of their decisions. The path of the Fed’s balance sheet, US debt, money supply, and prices can only increase with time. Despite new highs in the stock and housing market, society will be worse off than the years prior. As time moves forward, dollar purchasing power will weaken.

Central banks/governments have been destroying purchasing power, currency debasement, for as long as they’ve been in existence. It’s not new, nor inventive. The recurring pattern of destruction is evidenced throughout all of history.

We can hope for a better tomorrow; however, it won’t be possible as long as the Federal Reserve exists. Either society must step up to stop the Fed, or one day, there will no longer be a society.

When commenting, please post a concise, civil, and informative comment. Full comment policy here

PPI Inflation Is Over 10% Yet Again, Suggesting More CPI Growth in Coming Months

05/12/2022Ryan McMaken

The Us Bureau of Labor Statistics released new producer price index (PPI) data today, and it’s not good news for consumers.

The PPI is a measure of prices at the production phase of goods and services, and is often an indicator of where consumer prices are headed. Prior to 1978, the index was known as the wholesale price index.

For April this year, year-over-year growth in the PPI came in at over 10 percent for the fifth month in a row, reaching 11 percent. This was a small drop from March’s year-over-year rate of 11.5 percent, but continues to suggest ongoing upward pressure in prices. Ther month-over-month change for April was 0.5 percent, which was a sizable pullback from March’s 1.6 percent month-over-month change, but movement remains upward and from a very elevated base.

Year-over-year changes in the PPI have been over 7 percent for 11 months.


As with the CPI index, the narrative among optimistic analysists was that PPI measures would moderate significantly in April and signal a downward turn. That does not appear to be the case so far. As the AP reports today:

The report included some signs that price increases are moderating, but at a painfully high level … prices are still rising at a historically rapid clip. Food costs rose 1.5% just in April from March, while shipping and warehousing prices leapt 3.6%. New car prices rose 0.8%.

In other words, there are still no indications that inflationary pressures are about to disappear. Moreover, from a policy standpoint, neither the Biden administration nor the central bank have signaled they will be taking any steps that could reliably reverse this trend.

The Biden administration has repeatedly taken a stance in favor of greater regulation which only curtails production, further constraining supply and pushing up prices.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve—which has been the primary source of inflation due to its ongoing financial repression policies—continues to embrace nothing more than the most tepid steps toward reining in monetary inflation.

As I wrote here last week, after nearly than a year of very elevated inflation rates, the Fed has said it will not begin reducing its portfolio—thus reducing the money supply—until June. And even then, the scale of the reductions will be miniscule. Moreover, the Fed’s planned increases to interest rates will only raise the target federal funds rate to around two percent, assuming all goes as planned.

These are tiny interventions which will do little to reduce inflation unless they trigger a recession—and then we’ll have both inflation and high unemployment.

When commenting, please post a concise, civil, and informative comment. Full comment policy here

Powell’s Soft Landing

05/06/2022Robert Aro

It’s happening. The Federal Reserve raised the Fed’s Fund Rate to 1.0% and announced their plan to shrink the balance sheet. In the Q & A that followed, Powell shared his thoughts on the possibility of recession and what he thinks about the decision to reduce the nearly $9 trillion balance sheet.

When asked why the balance sheet reduction will commence on June 1, Chair Powell responded, (excusing for his grammar):

So why June 1, it was just pick a date, you know, and that happens to be that happened to be the date that we picked. It was nothing magic about it. You know, it's not going to have any macroeconomic significance over time. We just picked that.

He reassured reporters:

I wouldn't read anything into it. In terms of the effect, I mean, I would just stress how uncertain the effect is of shrinking the balance sheet.

Certainly, much can and should be read into this. Their plan is to reduce holdings of US Treasuries and Mortgage-Backed Securities by $47.5 billion each month, from June to August, and then beginning September to reduce by up to $95 billion a month.

This must not be taken lightly, since reducing the money supply has various effects on interest rates, interest expense, asset valuations, lending activity, as well as both consumer and entrepreneurial decision making. To say the effect is “uncertain,” shows Powell is either willfully ignoring both history, reality and Austrian economics, or simply doesn’t understand.

Surely, he must be concerned for the future since the topic of recession came out throughout his press engagement. The Chair believes:

Now, I would say I think we have a good chance to have a soft or softish landing or outcome, if you will.

The term “soft landing” gets used a lot, yet no one has ever described what exactly constitutes a soft landing. We can infer it to mean little economic pain or hardship, or avoidance of a recession, but it would be nice if the public were provided more detail.

As far as the Fed sees, the future shouldn’t be too bad. In his own words:

So it's a strong economy and nothing about it suggests that it's close to or vulnerable to a recession.

He continued to praise the strength of the economy and labor market. Even going as far to say that: “Businesses can't find the people to hire,” using this as proof of a strong jobs market.

At last, some references to Paul Volcker were made.  One reporter asked if the Fed would:

…have the courage to endure recessions to bring inflation down if that were the only way necessary?

Powell didn’t provide a firm yes response, but referred to the possibility of “restrictive” policies instead:

So I think it's certainly possible that we'll need to move policy to levels that we see as restrictive as opposed to just neutral… If we do conclude that we need to do that, then we won't hesitate to do it.

Much can be taken away from Powell’s press conference, especially how the Fed doesn’t appear overly concerned about the inevitable bust it set in motion. However, it’s the word “courage” that really stands out. To assign a heroic trait to members of the Fed doesn’t really fit. Not because some, if not all of the Board of Governors are multi-millionaires, but because not one of them will ever be held accountable for any adverse consequences caused by their policies.

It’s difficult to find anything heroic because central planners have little to nothing to lose; when things turn for the worst and a recession follows, at best the Fed might claim it was a policy error or blame something else, but that would be the extent of their suffering.

When commenting, please post a concise, civil, and informative comment. Full comment policy here

Powell’s Predictions

03/21/2022Robert Aro

Following the first interest rate increase in several years, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell provided some interesting predictions for the year ahead. Starting with his thoughts on the likelihood of a recession:

…I would start by saying that, in my view, the probability of a recession within the next year is not particularly elevated.

He believes that because aggregate demand, the labor market, job growth, and household/business balance sheets are all strong, the economy “will be able to flourish” with less accommodative monetary policy.

When asked about (price) inflation for the rest of the year, he mentioned how the Ukraine crisis should add to it, but thinks inflation will go down later this year, confidently saying he expects inflation to be “lower than last year.”

He was then asked how much he expects inflation to come down as a direct result of the Fed’s actions, in which he responded how other factors besides monetary policy, like supply chain issues, affect inflation. He gave the following dates:

You know, I think monetary policy starts to bite on inflation and on growth, with a lag, of course. And so you would see that more in '23 and '24.

His thoughts on inflation and interest rates were made clear through the following question, regarding how the average American should understand inflation:

How is the 25 basis point hike today and then the signaling on future Fed policy going to address the inflation that they're feeling at the stores on a daily basis?

Powell first mentioned how middle-income persons can handle more inflation, in his own words:

…I mean, we've all seen charts that show, if you're a middle-income person, you've got room to absorb some inflation.

Then provided a formal response:

You asked about rates. So the way that works I would explain is, as we raise interest rates, that should gradually slow down demand for the interest sensitive parts of the economy. And so what we would see is demand slowing down but just enough so that it's a better match with supply. And that brings -- that will bring inflation down over time.

While not said explicitly, his plan indicates that by raising rates on home mortgages and quite literally every rate sensitive loan product, including the expense on US Government debt, should bring down the prices of everyday household items.

As noted in the previous article about raising rates to fight inflation, it seems strange there would ever exist an inflation problem in the world, or at least a problem in America, if raising rates to lower prices worked as easily as it has been portrayed by the central bank.

The path of monetary tightening continues with more details on balance sheet reduction to come in May, followed by continual rate hikes. With the raising of rates coupled with high inflation readings, the comparison between now and the 1980’s continues. It was reminded to Powell that the last time CPI inflation was this high occurred in:

…July of 1981, when the effective federal funds rate was 19.2 percent.

One could take it to mean there is room for rates to rise today; however, 1981 also marks the first year America’s national debt surpassed $1 trillion. Today the national debt is over $30 trillion. Few things should ever be considered impossible, but an interest rate at 19.2 percent in today’s world at these debt levels seems impossible. Yet at the same time, it sounds just as impossible to say interest rates can never increase to 5, 10 or even 19.2 percent ever again.

When commenting, please post a concise, civil, and informative comment. Full comment policy here

Paul Cantor RIP, 1945–2022

02/26/2022David Gordon

It was a shock to learn last night that my dear friend Paul Cantor had passed away. He was a great Shakespeare scholar and in Shakespeare’s Rome and Shakespeare’s Roman Trilogy he showed that Shakespeare had a profound knowledge of the reasons for the rise and fall of the Roman Republic. In the book, he compared Shakespeare’s interpretation of Christianity to Nietzsche’s. I had a long message from him on January 5 about this book, discussing a review of it that I planned to write.  He was also a leading authority on popular culture. He was for many years professor of English at the University of Virginia and also taught at Harvard.

Paul attended Ludwig von Mises’s seminar while he was in high school, and he had a lifelong interest in Austrian economics. He gave a series of lectures at the institute on literature and often spoke at our conferences. He lectured without notes, quoting in several languages, with a flowing, eloquent delivery. He pioneered in the application of Austrian economics to literature.

He was also a fan of pro wrestling, and now I will never again be able to go over with him his recollections of matches in Madison Square Garden in the 1960s. “I shall not look upon his like again.”

When commenting, please post a concise, civil, and informative comment. Full comment policy here

Progressives: Don’t Forget About Race!

02/14/2022Robert Aro

History was made under the Biden administration last week as the Federal Reserve announced Dr. Susan M. Collins to be named President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Her appointment makes her the first African-American female to serve on the Fed’s Board of Directors.

Congratulations to Dr. Collins. Unfortunately, given the state of the country at this time, government appointments can be bitter-sweet. As mentioned by Fortune, race seems to play a vital role in almost all facets of decision making:

Progressive Democrats have been pressing for greater diversity in leadership positions at the Fed, which has been dominated by White males.

Not only must race be factored into hiring decisions, but there must be a public display of it, with that well-known, ostentatious, self-congratulatory wokism that progressives have mastered. The Boston Fed’s press release exemplifies this when, on the announcement of her appointment, they proudly declared:

The search committee worked very hard to ensure a rigorous, open, and inclusive process…

But does this help, or hurt the country and race relations?

Because of announcements like these, some might look at this from a superficial standpoint and say she got the job because of race which could lead to further racial divide and become a possible point of contention amongst her peers.

However, let’s look at her pedigree:

Collins spent many years in the Boston area while earning her undergraduate degree at Harvard University (summa cum laude), earning her Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology…

She served as an assistant, then associate professor at Harvard, and that’s only the beginning of her career:

She also worked in Washington in roles including senior staff economist at the President's Council of Economic Advisers, professor at Georgetown University, senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution, and visiting scholar at the International Monetary Fund.

This is just some of it, as she authored many research papers and:

…has a deep understanding of the Federal Reserve System's inner workings, having served for nine years as a director at the Chicago Reserve Bank.

Perhaps we mustn’t get fooled by progressives and their proclivity to prove they aren’t racist. Her credentials speak for themselves. Her education and various accomplishments are exactly what the Federal Reserve System wants from its leadership, someone well versed in Neoclassical economics, while experience with the IMF and the Fed is nothing but an added bonus.

If, for no reason other than tact, no one announced the overabundance of “white males” at the Fed and the rigorous search for inclusivity, then they could simply hire based on credentials. Her ability to tow the line likely would have ensured Dr. Collins got the job anyway. Race need not play a factor in the hiring decision and there would not have to be a dark cloud of racial overhang around the entire affair.

Congratulations again to Dr. Collins. I’ll be waiting in the wings for her first press release, hoping she says something about the free market, liberty and freedom because that’s what matters most. Feel free to see my profile at Mises Institute. I assure you, I’d rather be judged not by the color of my skin, but by the content of my character… my articles, and fashion sense. I’m quite confident Dr. Collins would agree.

When commenting, please post a concise, civil, and informative comment. Full comment policy here

Pandemic Wage Observations

Labor shortage “fun” fact:Inflation-adjusted weekly median earnings JUMPED in the 2nd quarter of 2020 (probably because so many low-wage workers got laid off), but have been steadily falling since then, and are now at the same level they were in the 4th quarter of 2019.

Meanwhile if we don’t adjust for inflation, we see the same jump in the 2nd quarter of 2020, followed by a gradual decline up to the end of 2020 – then a gradual increase.

In short: median wages were “falling” in the back half of 2020 because of low-wage workers being laid off in large numbers in early 2020 and then hired back. Now, wages are “rising”, but failing to keep up with inflation.

Also interesting:

When comparing the weekly earnings for the 1st decile (that is the line that separates the bottom 10% of earners from the top 90%) and the median weekly earnings (the line that separates the top and bottom half), one can see the roller coaster ride from the pandemic specifically hit those with lower incomes harder than average. The bottom 10% went from 50% of median weekly earnings down to about 49% by 3rd quarter of 2020, and is now up to 51.5% – the highest level in the past 10 years. (The lowest was 46.3% back in 2012.) The bottom 10% are also at the best ratio when compared to the top 10% over the past 10 years. (The lowest earning about 21.2% what the top 10% do, while 20%ish has been more typical.)

Note: remember – these are all comparisons of the lines separating, not total or average earnings for these groups. So, properly speaking, the is comparing the highest earner in the bottom 10% with the lowest earner in the top 10%. Or, alternatively, the middle of the bottom 20% with the middle of the top 20%.

Site to get this data and more: https://data.bls.gov/PDQWeb/le

[Prof. E's Blog.]

When commenting, please post a concise, civil, and informative comment. Full comment policy here

Power in the People, Not against the People

01/10/2022Gary Galles

2021 may have seen the greatest proliferation in American government command and control, with its corresponding constriction in liberty, in my lifetime. Power has become dramatically more centralized in the federal government--at the expense of individuals and their voluntary arrangements--with trillions of dollars of new programs and proposals (promoted as costless to Americans), expanded regulatory abuses, and breathtaking efforts at income redistribution nowhere authorized in the Constitution.

While the engorgement of our federal government already implemented or proposed is unprecedented, in part it follows much the same path as earlier episodes, such as FDR’s New Deal. That is why there is wisdom to be found from those who understood and opposed that accumulation of power into the hands of the government which took it out of individuals’ hands. Perhaps no one offers us more insight in this regard than Felix Morley, in his The Power in the People (1949).

Morley was a Rhodes Scholar, a Guggenheim Fellow, a Ph.D. from the Brookings Institution, a Pulitzer Prize winning editor of the Washington Post, President of Haverford College, and founder of Human Events, who has a journalism award named for him. James Person pointed out that he was “respected for his acumen and fairness by his peers across the political spectrum,” and reviewer Edith Hamilton termed The Power in the People “a remarkable book, nobly written and profoundly thought out.”

Morley’s key distinction there was between self-government and coercive government. As Leonard Liggio summarized it,

Morley based his distinction between Society and State on the origins of the words. Society is derived from the Latin socius, a companion. Society and association are rooted in the voluntarism of companionship…Morley continues on to the word State, which is rooted in involuntary or forced association. He sees the absence of free choice and free contract as the basis of the word status, from which state is derived.

When a new edition of The Power in the People was produced in 1972, 23 years after its first publication, it was reprinted without change. A dozen years later still, Sydney Mayers concluded, “Nor is any change required currently.” Consider how much the same is true today, at a time when self-government is certainly in rapid decline.

Self-government and voluntary cooperation are the keys to America’s success

This Republic is grounded on the belief that the individual can govern himself. ...

The founders…frequently asserted that the primary purpose of government is to secure private property. ...

The American Republic was specifically designed to safeguard individual enterprise against the state.

The Constitution of the United States sets specific limits to the power of government so that the latter may not repress the individual.

The dominant emphasis was on self-government rather than on imposed government; on the development of Society, not on the aggrandizement of the State.

The individual…fulfills himself through voluntary co-operation in a free society. This… implies an instinctive hostility to the State…with a…tendency to assume the direction of all social functions.

In America the individual, retaining sovereignty, intended to fulfill his destiny through a free Society, holding the State in leash.

Any system of government cherishing the individual…should not impede their voluntary adjustment.

What we had is not what we have now

A government designed to encourage people to govern themselves is increasingly distorted in order to subject them to remote administrative dictation.

Americans have…largely ceased to reflect upon the implications of the unconditional surrender of power to political government…wholly contrary to the principles of the Republic.

The survival of the Republic is not endangered by weakness in the central government, but by popular pressure for its aggrandizement.

The development of the State has been that of constant aggrandizement…at the expense of Society and of the individuals who create Society.

State, in short, subjects people; whereas Society associates them voluntarily.

A government established to secure the blessings of liberty has actually produced… tyranny…[with] government in the hands of men willing to exploit ignorance in order to further the centralization of power.

Man…is now exchanging membership in Society for servitude to the State.

The issue stands out clearly. Shall man be subject to the authoritarian State or shall he restrain State powers to the minimum necessary for an orderly Society?

What we need to remember

The American tradition is…completely opposed to authoritarian government...the ‘Safety and Happiness’ of the governed takes precedence over every governmental prerogative and…deference is not necessarily owing to those temporarily in a position of political command.

State power, no matter how well disguised by seductive words, is in the last analysis always coercive physical power…and by its nature works ceaselessly to enlarge that power.

The distinguishing characteristic of American civilization is the subordination of centralized power on behalf of individual liberty.

Only one form of government can nurture liberty, and that is personal self-government.

The American theory is that every man has within him the potential to make a significant contribution of some kind to human welfare. Therefore every minority…must be protected against the ever-possible tyranny of mass opinion.

Enlargement of the area of State authority…contracts the condition of economic freedom …this false god over every form of social organism is enormous and devastating.

Social strength can be diminished by a constant centralization and enlargement of governmental functions, the great majority of which are unproductive and…weaken the economic basis by the cumulative effects of regulation and taxation.

Social legislation is a sign of retrogression, not progress.

That the State should solve, by necessarily coercive methods, any problem that individuals are capable of solving voluntarily, is…the essence of tyranny.

To transfer power to the State…serves only to monopolize power in wholly irresponsible hands.

The one enduring political folly is to concentrate in the hands of ambitious men power that they do not have the restraint to exercise wisely.

The most that any government can do is set people “at liberty.” The State can stabilize the condition of freedom, and that is its sole excuse for being…[but] men must develop their liberty from within. It cannot be doled out by government agencies.

Over 7 decades ago, Felix Morley said that “American political principles are now being aggressively challenged by the philosophy of government planning.” That challenge is vastly greater today. According to Joseph Stromberg, “Felix Morley…understood the old republic, the constitution, peace, and free markets, as well as their opposites, empire, lawless rule, war and generalized statism.” That is the understanding Americans need to rediscover to defend our liberty. And reading The Power in the People brings with it what Sydney Mayers called “an unusual privilege, the rare experience of enjoying brilliant literary style whilst absorbing education thanks to the author’s keen mind and dexterous pen.”

When commenting, please post a concise, civil, and informative comment. Full comment policy here

Powell: “You Wanted Inflation”

12/20/2021Robert Aro

This December’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting might be the last time we get to hear a Q&A session from Chair Powell this year. The Q&A is televised, with the transcript presented on the central bank's website, and continues to provide invaluable knowledge into the mind of one of the most powerful men in America. Of all the quotes Powell gave us this year, the one below stands as one of the best. Said near the conclusion of the December meeting, on p.26 of the transcript reads:

What I'm saying is there's a sense among some that you wanted inflation, this is what you wanted, how do you like it, you know?

It’s recommended to read the entire one-page dialogue that accompanies the above quote, if nothing else to see first hand how discombobulated answers are preferred over honest ones.

Powell responded to a reporter asking him what he meant earlier when the Chair said they were not getting the inflation the Fed anticipated. The reporter asked if the inflation is a result of all the stimulus.

After responding that inflation is what some people wanted, Powell followed with (excuse his grammar):

And the truth is, this is not the inflation that we were -- that what we were talking about in the framework was inflation that comes from a tight labor market, right?

He doesn’t make clear what exactly the right type of inflation is. Then the speech digresses line after line of muddled half-thoughts between inflation and employment from there. It’s sad to say, but his explanations are not coherent. For the sake of brevity, the quotes aren’t included. But he ends with defending the Fed’s actions for the benefit of the country. As explained:

And what's coming out now is, you know, really strong growth, really strong demand, high incomes, and all that kind of thing. You know, people will judge in 25 years whether we overdid it or not but, you know, the reality is, we are where we are. And, you know, we think our policy is the right one for the situation that we're in.

For the record. Powell is completely wrong, or lying.

Inflation is like socialism; anyone who understands it does not want it. The only people who thought (price) inflation would make the country a more hospitable place are those who mistakenly believe inflation means growth. It’s the rationalization of currency debasement as national policy which continues to permeate amongst central bankers, those on television, and in academia.

On behalf of the overwhelming majority of people not considered “rich,” no one wants the prices of everything they purchase to perpetually increase year over year, whether it’s food, rent, medicine, transportation, clothes, or college tuition.

This gets worse because Powell shows an understanding of this entirely. In his opening remarks he says:

We understand that high inflation imposes significant hardship, especially on those least able to meet the higher costs of essentials like food, housing, and transportation.

He acknowledges how price increases on essentials to life, such as food, pose a burden on certain members of society. So far so good… except rather than expanding on this idea he immediately follows with:

We are committed to our price stability goal.

Unfazed by his previous sentence, the harm inflation causes is secondary to the benefit that comes when price stability is obtained at last.

He’s completely wrong here as well. Until the Fed gets over its fear of deflation, there will be no price stability. There will only be perpetual and compounding effects of inflation, which is ironic, because that’s the exact opposite of price stability.

As the year comes to a close, there is enough information to anticipate how this ends. The Fed’s new asset purchases are expected to decrease to zero by March of next year. Interest rates should increase some time after. If the Fed stops further asset purchases and the government somehow reigns in spending, such as stopping stimulus checks or other free money giveaways, then we can hope price increases will slow down. And that’s if, and only if, everything goes according to plan. If a new virus mutation or some other external event poses a threat to the economy, don’t be surprised if the Fed abandons its plans to take on a more accommodative stance once again.

When commenting, please post a concise, civil, and informative comment. Full comment policy here

Powell or Brainard?

11/21/2021Robert Aro

Any day now President Biden will nominate his choice candidate for the role of Chair of the Federal Reserve. If Jerome Powell doesn’t get reappointed then Biden will likely go with progressive Democrat Lael Brainard. Everyone has a take, some more opinionated than others.

The editorial board of the Wall Street Journal made no attempt to soften their thoughts on Powell in the onion piece entitled Tweedledum and Tweedledee at the Fed, calling Powell’s tenure “historic failure:”

Mr. Powell’s credibility has been damaged with his persistent refrain, until recently, that inflation is “transitory.” His new monetary policy framework of average-inflation targeting, unveiled in August 2020, has been a bust.

They conclude that given the choice between two, there isn’t much of a difference and that he’ll have to “own inflation even more than he already does.”

CNBC provided an array of opinions last week, including a chief strategist from State Street who also didn’t have much faith in a Powell re-nomination:

The odds and probabilities seem to be falling. The higher-than-expected inflation readings hurt, the trading scandals hurt, and the fact he’s a Trump appointee makes him an easy scapegoat for the administration.

A chief economist at Grant Thornton made an attempt to compare the two, CNBC quoting:

The biggest difference between her and Powell is she might be faster on climate change, though Powell was pretty quick on the uptake. The other issue is she’s much more open to cryptocurrency for the Fed, and that’s the biggest difference I know between them.

Still somewhat of a difference, if Brainard is “more open” to cryptocurrency, that certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing for the country. While being “faster on climate change” sounds more contentious as the effectiveness of inflating the money supply or suppressing interest rates could have little effect on making the world a greener place.

Perhaps it was an investment manager at Morgan Stanley who said it best:

It’s not like either one would be dramatically different from the other… It’s not like you’re going from a hawk to a dove. You’re changing leadership, not changing philosophy.

Isn’t that the truth?

For all that can be said, the difference between Brainard and Powell is more superficial than skin-deep. Certainly, every Fed Chair brings their own experience, outlook and maybe even leadership qualities. But their ethos, whether it’s the dual mandate or the desire to use the central bank’s powers to intervene in the free market, still stands.

Any notion of freedom, liberty or understanding the dangers of increasing the money supply will likely continue to go unnoticed. Whether Powell or Brainard, however the next four years goes, unless a dramatic change sweeps the country or the Federal Reserve, which demands an end to this pseudo-mainstream/make-it-up-as-you-go economics, there really isn’t much to look forward to regarding who will helm America’s central bank.

When commenting, please post a concise, civil, and informative comment. Full comment policy here