Ralph Benko is great reading this morning with his Forbes.com column:
For the rest of us, getting it right — as did Chairman Volcker and (during his first two terms), Greenspan is crucial to the creation of a climate of equitable prosperity in which jobs are created in abundance. 39 million jobs were created during the “Great Moderation.” We haven’t seen anything remotely like that since.
Getting it right is crucial to economic mobility — raises, bonuses, and promotions — to let us workers climb the ladder to decent affluence. Thus, just when to raise rates is much less important than the bedrock issue.
For over a decade now job creation has been poor. Poor, too, has been economic mobility. The left is very much on record as calling for extended ease — keeping interest rates down. The right has been critical over the Fed’s “zero interest rate policy.” Yet the real tug of war is over whether the Fed should follow a monetary rule or exercise discretion; and, if a rule is preferable, what rule?
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It is my guess that Janet Yellen reaches out to the social-democratic left because it represents her native intellectual milieu. They speak her language. Many progressives simply find the right foreign, our language alien. (Memo to Yellen: If all I knew about my team was what I read from Paul Krugman I, too, would disdain me. The mainstream media portrayal of the right is a grotesque caricature. We’re not the way we are portrayed. We are, however, skeptical of the efficacy of central planning. For good reason. And, Dr. Yellen? America is a center right nation.)
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In a way, it’s “Yellen vs. Volcker.” Contrast a statement by Madam Yellen with one made by former (and iconic author of the Great Moderation) Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, reprised in an earlier column:
Madame Yellen [at hearing of the House Financial Services Committee chaired by Chairman Jeb Hensarling earlier this year] stated that “It would be a grave mistake for the Fed to commit to conduct monetary policy according to a mathematical rule.” Contrast Madame Yellen’s protest with a recent speech by Paul Volcker in which he forthrightly stated: “By now I think we can agree that the absence of an official, rules-based cooperatively managed, monetary system has not been a great success. In fact, international financial crises seem at least as frequent and more destructive in impeding economic stability and growth. … Not a pretty picture.”
Also, from Twitter: