In what I believe will be the financial post of last week, Prof. Depew Hit one out of the park in today's Five Things. Here is point #1 in case you missed it.
1. Federal Reserve's Joy Division
She's lost control... again... she's lost control.
Before today the overwhelming majority of those who either observe or participate in financial markets presumed the Federal Reserve retained some sort of control over price stability, financial markets and, to a degree, even certain asset prices. Let that myth now be shattered. DOLLAR FALLS TO RECORD LOW AGAINST EURO - (BN) CANADIAN DOLLAR RISES TO $1 FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 1976 - (BN) GOLD RISES TO 1980 HIGH AS DOLLAR FALLS - (BN) CORN RISES 3% IN CHICAGO - (BN) WHEAT RISES 1.8% ON CBOT - (BN) SOYBEANS RISE 1.6% - (BN) TREASURY YIELD GAP WIDEST SINCE MAY 2005 - (BN) These are important moves because each of these instruments - dollar, gold, Treasuries, commodities - relate directly to price stability. Directly. Meanwhile, we just wanted to point out this fancy, well-designed quote from the Fed's Overview at their website:
Over the years, its role in banking and the economy has expanded." Indeed. Just take a look: Today the Federal Reserve's "duties" include:
- conducting the nation’s monetary policy by influencing the monetary and credit conditions in the economy in pursuit of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates
- supervising and regulating banking institutions to ensure the safety and soundness of the nation’s banking and financial system and to protect the credit rights of consumers
- maintaining the stability of the financial system and containing systemic risk that may arise in financial markets
- providing financial services to depository institutions, the U.S. government, and foreign official institutions, including playing a major role in operating the nation’s payments system
Honestly, what isn't the Fed responsible for? Anyway, the illusion of control was nice while it lasted.
But the "Joy division" does not stop there. Sometimes things get so out of control that Central Bankers resort to tactics that have failed every time in history, like price controls. The Financial Times has this report Beijing imposes price freeze.China is to enforce a freeze on all government-controlled prices in a sign of Beijing’s alarm about rising popular anger over inflation, now at its highest rate in more than a decade. The order freezes a vast array of prices still under the control of government in China, ranging from oil, electricity and water to the cost of parking and park entrance fees.
“Any unauthorized price rises are strictly forbidden...and in principle there will be no new price-raising measures this year,” the ministries said.
Prof. Depew also discussed China's implementation of price controls in point #5 today. I would like to add these comments:
Price controls are absolutely 100% guaranteed to fail. They have failed to work 100% of the times they are tried. The Chinese economy could easily crash over this. Hasn't anyone learned anything from Nixon,or for that matter Zimbabwe?
U.K. Top Secret Missions
But the insanity does not stop there. Occasionally, like now, Central Bankers need Covert Actions to "ensure price stability". Finfacts Ireland is reporting Bank of England needs covert actions to prevent panic.
Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said today that British and European Union laws complicated plans to rescue Northern Rock Plc and prevented the Bank from acting covertly to prevent a panic. "The interaction between different pieces of unconnected legislation made it almost impossible for us to act as a lender of last resort in the way that I would prefer."
What way does Mervyn King prefer? Covertly of course. The Bank Of England does not want anyone to know what it's doing. (For that matter neither does the Fed). This is interesting because just a week ago Governor King said it was a moral Hazard to bail out Northern Rock. I guess there is no moral hazard as long as it can be done on a top secret mission and no one knows.
U.S. Top Secret Missions
Back in the U.S. Bush needs top secret wiretapping, secret prisons outside of the U.S., etc, etc. Bush Even went so far as demand records from search engine providers like Google. What for? Who knows? What we do know is that it is an intrusion into private lives of citizens by the unbelievably paranoid. Fortunately, (for now anyway), Secret Requests For Search Records Through Patriot Act Ruled Unconstitutional.
A US district court judge has ruled that it is unconstitutional for the US government to send secret letters demanding search records from search engines. A provision of the Patriot Act has allowed for such letters to be sent to search engines, ISPs and others by the Federal Bureau Of Investigation -- and made it illegal for companies getting such FBI demands to even reveal the requests at all in general. Today's ruling found that violated free speech rights.Totally Out Of Control
As you can see, things are totally out of control in the U.S., the U.K., China and scores of other places including the EU. We are not just talking about "price stability" either but rather stability in general. More secrecy will be requested to keep things stable.
There is only one way to stop these government intrusions that I can think of. Vote for Ron Paul. He is the only candidate who wants to get rid of IRS and the Fed. He is also the only candidate who voted against the war in Iraq and he is the only candidate that stands a chance of making the role of government smaller. The latter point is crucial. I added a small Ron Paul banner to my Global Economics Blog.