Pulse: Monetary Policy
Halloween weekend seems a good time to try to look past fears about the US elections to the lingering challenges that continue to haunt the global economy. As COVID cases accelerate, the hope that this disease would burn itself out has vanished, and a lasting economic recovery seems to hinge on finding a vaccine. Beyond distribution, costs, vaccine reticence, and logistics, what are the hurdles we face once a preventative inoculation has been found?
Charles Kupchan has a new book coming out on October 1st about the history of isolationism in the US. Ever since George Washington advised his new country ‘to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world” the US has historically been a place people went to in order to escape disruption.
Yesterday Peter Navarro declared that the US-China trade deal was dead in the water, which his boss quickly walked back on Twitter. In a world of global threats, should bilateral disputes remain our focus, or are we wasting precious time? As I wrote for the G7 Research Group:
The Federal Reserve’s interest rate cut on Tuesday certainly won’t hurt the financial markets or the real economy, but as the subsequent steep drop in stock prices shows, the cut won’t help much, either. Three forces stand in the way.
Of all my memories of Paul Volcker – I first met him in the early 1970s when we was UnderSecretary for Monetary Affairs at the US Treasury and I was editing The Banker – four are particularly persistent:
The passing of legends prompts renewed consideration of their achievements and, of times, conjures not-so-favorable comparisons to their successors. Paul Volcker, who died at 92 this week, set the standard for bold monetary policy as Fed chairman from 1979 to 1987. Taking the helm amid stubbornly high and rising inflation and lackluster trend real growth, he faced the Federal Reserve’s greatest challenge since the Great Depression. Like that earlier episode, bad decisions by his predecessors had created much of the crisis.
In 1919 John Maynard Keynes wrote the first best-seller in economics, The Economic Consequences of the Peace. The title is a bit misleading, since it is really about the cost of war. He railed against the Treaty of Versailles, correctly predicting that inequitable conditions of peace made another world war inevitable.