William Poole, who recently left his post as president of the St. Louis Fed, is essentially calling Bernanke a communist:
Poole said he was very concerned that the Fed could simply lend money to anyone, without constraint.In the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe during the Cold War era, economies were inefficient because they had a soft-budget constraint. If a firm got into trouble, the banking system would give them more money, Poole said.The current situation at the Fed seems eerily similar, he said.
“What is discipline – where are the hard choices – when does Fed say our resources are exhausted?” Poole asked.
And current head of the Philadelphia fed bank, Charles Plosser, disagrees with Bernanke’s strategy of the endless printing-press and ever-increasing fed balance sheet:
Plosser urged the Fed to “proceed with caution” with the new policy. Others outside the Fed are much more strident and want plans in place immediately to reverse it. They believe an inflation storm is already in train.***
Bernanke argued that focusing on the size of the balance sheet misses the point, arguing the Fed’s various asset purchase programs are not easily summarized in a single number.But Plosser said that the growth of the Fed’s balance sheet was a key metric.“It is not appropriate to ignore quantitative metrics in this new policy environment,” Plosser said.***
Plosser is bringing the spotlight right back to the Fed’s balance sheet.“The size of the balance sheet does offer a possible nominal anchor for monitoring the volume of our liquidity provisions,” Plosser said.
I’m glad that some of the fed heavyweights are starting to speak out.