OP-ED: Where Do We Go From Here?
Published July 8, 2022
Where have we been and where do we go from here?
Where is here and how did we get there?
There is a toxic brew of rising inflation and a slowing economy. It could be called stagflation.
The U.S. economy, guided by Federal Reserve policies, has lurched from one side of the boat to the other. It appears as though the Fed is unable to chart a straight line of growth, so when encouragement is needed, it does too much, and when a slowdown is needed, it also does too much.
The financial crisis of 2007 to 2009 was caused when the Fed, following an easy money policy, overheated the economy. Then, as a result of too much stimulus, inflation predictably followed. A reasonable dose of inflation is OK; the Fed itself has set a target rate of about 2 percent per year. But the Fed overshot their target by a wide margin and inflation slipped the bounds of the Fed and ran wild. We are in a similar, although not yet as extreme, situation today.
Then and now, easy money policy resulted from a desire to have a robust economy. Back then the housing market was stimulated by ultra-loose mortgage lending standards under Fed chairman Alan Greenspan. Variable mortgage rates promised cheap interest rates. Recently the approach was to bring interest rates to near zero, with mortgage rates reaching historic lows. Perhaps, in the background, there was a desire for low interest rates to make the increase in the national debt from the massive fiscal stimulus of the COVID lockdown easier to service.
Whatever the reason the result was cheap money and runaway inflation.
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