by Mark Thornton
It is especially noteworthy that the Austrian predictions all provided an economic explanation of the bubble and that their explanations were relatively consistent across the group. To generalize, they saw the Federal Reserve as following a loose money policy that kept interest rates before the rates that would have existed in the absence of inflationary monetary policy. Individual writers emphasized the willingness of the Federal Reserve to consistently bail out and rescue investors during the 1990s, thereby desensitizing investors to risk. As a result, a period of “exuberance” and wild speculation took place building into the hysteria of a stock market bubble. If the Austrian analysis is correct, this would suggest that the Federal Reserve is a significant source of financial and economic instability. It also suggests that the general bias to keep rates as low as possible can cause significant losses in the economy and that a better policy might be to let interest rates be determined by market forces, without the intervention of the Federal Reserve.