The Mysterious Case of the Misfiring Monetary Policy

By Karen Shaw Petrou

When former Fed Chairman Bernanke launched a new approach to U.S. monetary policy earlier this year, he prompted many within and outside the U.S. central bank to call for sweeping change that would solve the “mystery” Janet Yellen says bedevils post-crisis monetary-policy transmission.  Just like the blue carbuncle Sherlock Holmes eventually found inside a large goose, central bankers are searching for a new gemstone within reams of data by which to guide increasingly complex policy-transmission channels.  Continue reading “The Mysterious Case of the Misfiring Monetary Policy”

How Equality Hangs in the Balance Sheet

By Karen Shaw Petrou

As Thomas Piketty’s book and much other research show, economic equality is a cumulative-return construct – that is, absent engines of growth, the rich get richer and middle-income households fall ever farther behind.  Thus, when bank balance-sheet capacity shrinks and lending to core economic engines such as housing and small business falters, income distribution widens and wealth inequality grows inexorably worse.  Continue reading “How Equality Hangs in the Balance Sheet”

Another Reason to Avoid Economic Inequality: Increased Financial-Crisis Risk

By Karen Shaw Petrou

In our post on the inequality impact of quantitative easing, we said that QE-driven asset valuations not only favor the rich, but in concert with ultra-low rates also sows the seeds for the type of asset-bubble that all too often leads to crashes and thus still more macroeconomic misery and inequality.  A new staff paper from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco finds that, even if the asset-price bubble doesn’t burst, inequality on its own could stoke the next U.S. financial crisis, with heightened inequality also found to be the best crisis predictor of all the other, more typical measures that the paper surveys.
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Why “Full” Employment is an Empty Promise

By Karen Shaw Petrou

In her speech on September 26, FRB Gov. Brainard deploys a lot of data to raise, but then duck, what I think is the most critical question about post-crisis monetary policy:  Is U.S. employment really “full” enough to justify wider wealth inequality that is in part the Fed’s fault?  Chair Yellen and others defend quantitative easing (QE) and ultra-low rates on grounds that U.S. “full” employment will eventually be matched by growth, consumption, and resilient, robust recovery.
Continue reading “Why “Full” Employment is an Empty Promise”