Article Image
News Link • Economics: Austrian

Austrians at the Fed? by Jeff Deist

• LewRockwell.Com - Jeff Deist

The same myths repeat themselves ad nauseam: the Fed's vaunted "independence" must be kept sacrosanct; the obvious and proper purpose of monetary policy is monetary stimulus; Ph.D. central bankers hold special technical knowledge which us average folks should not question; and central bank decisions are wholly unpolitical.

These myths are used to prop up trite and superficial conclusions, always with the implication that "everyone knows" X, Y, and Z are true about central banking. But many times those conclusions are not true, or at least not widely agreed upon. And when they are reported as gospel truth, the financial press effectively become cheerleaders for the Fed. While they may call for tinkering with interest rates or replacing one Governor with another, the presumption that central banks are ever and always benevolent goes unchallenged.

For example, consider this recent article from Bloomberg fretting about "Austrians" taking over the Fed under a Trump administration:

Trump's characterization of the current economy as "false" suggests a sympathy for the Austrian school of economics, in which short-term monetary benefits are believed to come with longer-run costs. The "false" economy fosters asset price bubbles that pop and end in an even deeper recession than would otherwise be the case.

A Fed packed with Austrian economists would likely react slowly to a recession and resist extraordinary policies such as quantitative easing. They would also likely attempt to tighten policy soon after the recession ended. They would, in other words, tend toward a liquidationist approach that risks turning the Great Recession into another Great Depression.

I hate to break it to Bloomberg, but thanks to central bankers liquidation and contraction are in fact the solutions to our economic issues, not problems to be avoided. And the economy is indeed a house of cards, starting at ground zero with the Fed's balance sheet and the Fed Funds Rate. But is the Fed really about to be packed with Austrians? Who knew that Trump's election means the Ivy League economists at the Eccles Building have been busy cramming Mises and Rothbard or at least looking up Paul Volcker's Wikipedia page?

First of all, there is no indication whatsoever that Donald Trump employs or intends to employ economists who are sympathetic to the Austrian school. Even the appointment of Dr. Judy Shelton to his economic advisory team, which raised eyebrows simply because she advocates some level of gold backing for the US dollar, hardly portends a hard-money Fed. Dr. Shelton may be a breath of fresh air relative to the Greg Mankiws and Glenn Hubbards, but she is also a "King Dollar" Larry Kudlow type who thinks an international monetary system should stabilize currency exchange rates. She is hardly an Austrian. But in the strangely unquestioning world of monetary policy journalism, any suggested deviation from the Fed's current role as a Keynesian stimulus machine is alarming. Any measure towards tighter monetary policy is portrayed as Austrian– even when nominal Fed hawks promoting it plainly are not.

Join us on our Social Networks:


Share this page with your friends on your favorite social network: