Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wesbury Agrees

Brian Wesbury's Op-ed in today's WSJ sounds familiar:

The Fed's "dual mandate" -- to keep the economy strong and prices stable -- serves to support this mistake. In contrast, the European Central Bank has a single mandate: price stability. No wonder the dollar has been so weak relative to the euro. Imagine two football teams. One with a single mandate: win. The other with a dual mandate: win and keep your uniforms clean. It's clear that the one with the single mandate will have more success in achieving its goals over time.

It is this combination of denial of actual inflation, bad economic models and the political expediency of keeping interest rates low that makes a repeat of past policy mistakes likely. In the end, inflation can be controlled -- the Volcker-Reagan strategy of tight monetary policy and tax cuts still holds the key -- but only if policy makers find the courage.

From my article at RealClearMarkets the other day:

The problem then and the problem now is the supply and demand for US dollars. Soon after Reagan’s inauguration in 1980, the dollar started a rise that continued until the Plaza Accord of 1985. The trade weighted dollar rose roughly 50% and the price of oil fell by a similar amount. That rise was no accident. It happened because of the tight monetary policy of Paul Volcker and the growth promoting tax policies of Ronald Reagan.


The fist step should be to clarify the Fed’s mandate. Now, the Fed is tasked with maintaining growth and minimizing inflation. The only way for the Fed to truly accomplish the first goal is to concentrate exclusively on the second. It should also be made clear that inflation is defined as an expansion of the money supply and not a rise in price of an arbitrary basket of goods. The best way to accomplish currency and price stability is to adopt a gold standard but in the absence of political will for such a policy, a single mandate is a good first step.

It's nice to know that I'm in such good company.


Jonathan Katcher said...

US immigration and its relationship to the US economy is an interesting topic.

Today quotas are used for US immigration. But when quotas are used for other things, like imported goods, economists cry foul, and rightly so. The fact is that if you use the same economic tools to measure both immigration and importation of goods, then you must arrive at the same general conclusions: that quotas don't work.

Tariffs work better than quotas for imported goods. So we could have an argument in favor of an immigration fee, to replace the inefficient immigration quota.

But best of all are no quotas, and no tariffs. Why can't the economists see that the same is true for immigration?

Joe said...

I think you meant to leave this comment on the Greenspan post, but that's fine.

I'm for open borders too and unilateral free trade. I see it as a matter of freedom. People talk about the "global village" but they don't want to live it. Too bad; it would be a better world.

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