The Incompetence of the Federal Reserve and Deep State Is Unavoidable

It’s not the managers who are incompetent, it’s the organization itself that is incompetent.

I received a number of interesting reader responses to my previous entries on the incompetence of the Federal Reserve and the Deep State:

The Federal Reserve: Masters of the Universe or Trapped Incompetents? (March 21, 2014)

Why Is Our Government (and Deep State) So Incompetent? (March 6, 2014)

Some readers thought I was underestimating the power of these institutions to pursue essentially unlimited money-printing and related global strategies.

While I understand the apparent power of unlimited money-printing and global Empire, my point (poorly articulated the first time around) was this:

The incompetence of these organizations is not a reflection of the competence or intelligence of their managers–it is the intrinsic consequence of their limited control of complex systems. If the system has reached the point of being ungovernable, even the most brilliant and experienced managers will fail because it’s not the managers who are incompetent, it’s the organization itself that is incompetent.

If we boil down the Fed’s vaunted god-like powers, they can be reduced to four levers: lower interest rates by purchasing interest-bearing assets, create the money to buy the assets, make free money (zero interest or near-zero interest) available to the global banking sector via lines of credit, and support/rig currency, bond and stock markets with purchases made directly or through proxies. (Thank you, correspondent Mike L., for reminding me about the Working Group on Financial Markets and the Exchange Stabilization Fund.)

That’s it. Everything else is window-dressing.

Is it even plausible that any organization can control an immensely complex economy with four levers? The Fed’s four levers exert no control over how much money is borrowed from the Fed or what insanely risky speculations and malinvestments the borrowed money funds.

The Fed can’t even control if the free money stays in the U.S.; by one estimate, fully 60% of the Fed’s free money has left the U.S. for higher-interest carry trades and speculations in the emerging economies.

The levers of power wielded by the centralized Fed and Deep State are too clumsy and limited to control a complex system at any useful level. The Fed, the Federal government and the deep State are all the wrong unit size.

This excerpt from Preparing for the Twenty-First Century by Paul Kennedy (1993) explains why:

The key autonomous actor in political and international affairs for the past few centuries (the nation-state) appears not just to be losing its control and integrity, but to be the wrong sort of unit to handle the newer circumstances. For some problems, it is too large to operate effectively; for others, it is too small. In consequence there are pressures for the “relocation of authority” both upward and downward, creating structures that might respond better to today’s and tomorrow’s forces of change.

All these centralized concentrations of power have moved into the diminishing returns phase of the S-Curve. As the unintended consequences of their efforts to manage complex systems with their clumsy, limited tools pile up, their profound failure of imagination kicks in and they do more of what has already failed.

The structural incompetence of centralized, wrong-unit-size agencies and central banks is global: the centralized strategies of China, Japan, the European Union and yes, Russia, too, will all fail for the same reasons: organizations with a few limited controls are intrinsically incapable of managing complex systems.

The Global Status Quo Strategy: Do More of What Has Failed Spectacularly (April 23, 2013)

The Master Narrative Nobody Dares Admit: Centralization Has Failed (June 21, 2012)

“Do you know what amazes me more than anything else? The impotence of force to organize anything.” (Napoleon Bonaparte)

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  • Thank you for pursuing this point in the face of those who would prefer their conspiracies to be entertaining.

  • The deep state when incompetent is incompetent by design of the epigovernment (which is not a part of the official government).

  • jadan

    A monetary system is also called a monetary “authority”. It is comparable to an institution like NIST, The National Institute of Standards & Technology, insofar as it should set standards that become the basis for interactive technological systems. Without agreed upon standards, our vastly complex technological environment would collapse. The failure of the Fed is not the failure of a complex system because it is a complex system, it is the failure to set any standards or to have any purpose in the management of a complex system. The Fed rather passively serves its clients in the name of “free markets”. “Free market” is a delusion shared by the private owners of the Fed system, the investor class. You don’t acknowledge the private nature of the Fed system, Mr. Smith. It is a “privatized” monetary system. The single purpose of the Fed, it’s raison d’etre, is to keep the investor class in clover, not to guarantee employment or keep inflation to a dull roar. The Fed believes in markets and it caters to the “market makers” in the quaint assumption that healthy markets ( those that create profits for investors ) will guarantee employment and control inflation.

    To judge the Fed a failure because it is a complex system simply because it is a complex system is to ignore the huge success of complex systems. Our techno environment is a complex and highly successful system. My computer is highly complex and works quite well. The Fed fails because it looks at the world through a keyhole. It is ideologically driven. It is a private entity that is not competent to serve a larger public purpose. It confuses the self-interest of its clients with the public interest. It fails because it is designed for the 18th Century and reflects class interests, not the broader public good.

    But you won’t see that or understand the true reason for the Fed’s failure if you don’t see that it is a private corporation that serves its stake holders first and foremost. Complex systems can be managed successfully if their purpose is clearly defined and correct algorithms are applied. A genuine monetary authority does not tolerate abuse. Our private system is designed to be putty in the hands of oligarchs. It is their system, not ours.