By Karen Petrou
- Although a new BIS report finally takes seriously the proposition that central banks may inadvertently increase economic inequality, it goes on to dismiss it because any inequality impact is said to be short-lived thanks to fiscal policy.
- However, neither short-lived inequality nor effective fiscal clean-up is substantiated by data in the U.S.
- But, while the BIS at least acknowledges some inequality impact, the Federal Reserve is obdurate that it doesn’t make economic inequality even a little bit worse. This means prolonged policy with still more profound anti-equality impact.
It is the purpose of this blog and my new book to show not just that monetary and regulatory policy may increase economic inequality, but also that the Fed’s policies since at least 2010 in fact did so. This isn’t an academic exercise – it’s an effort to show as analytically as possible how monetary policy exacerbates inequality so monetary policy alters course before inequality’s systemic, political, and human cost grow still higher. However, disciplined analytics that power up effective advocacy must be open to correction. This blog post thus looks first at a new, if halting, acknowledgement of at least some inequality impact from the Bank for International Settlements and then the Fed’s still-stout denial that it has any responsibility for the growing U.S. wealth and income divide.
Continue reading “The Central-Bank Inequality Excuse and Why It’s No Exoneration”
By Karen Petrou
As the COVID crisis continues, some have speculated that wealth inequality will drop because it did in the 1400s during the Black Death. However, this cure is not only of course considerably worse than the disease, but it’s also no cure. Economic inequality is a cumulative process – the worse off you are, the worse off you get unless something positive reverses this compound effect. Conversely, the better off, the still more comfortable unless something comes along to redistribute your gains, however well or ill gotten. Given how unequal the U.S. was before COVID, it will surely get only more so now, especially if the Fed stays the course with trillions for financial markets and pennies for everyone else. Continue reading “Inequality Rising”
By Karen Petrou
After crafting the initial features of the post-crisis bank-regulatory framework, global and U.S. policy-makers were dumbfounded to discover that costly new rules changed the competitive financial-market balance. Mirabile dictu, when costs rose for banks, banks changed their business model to cling to as much investor return as possible instead of, as regulators apparently expected, taking it on the chin to ensure ongoing financial-service delivery at whatever pittance of a profit remained. As markets rapidly and in some cases radically redefined themselves, global regulators dubbed the beneficiaries of this new competitive landscape “shadow banks.” At the most recent meeting of the FSB Plenary, they changed shadow banks to the less stealthy moniker of “non-bank financial intermediaries.” A new BIS working paper shortens the scope of shadow banking to “market-based finance,” going on to assess a fundamental question: does the transformation of financial intermediation from banks to non-banks alter the income and equality landscape? The answer: It’s complicated. Continue reading “This Little Equality Goes to Market”