Should you care if the Federal Reserve loses its independence?
It’s become a growing risk in recent years as President Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked the U.S. central bank over interest rate policy and tried to appoint his political allies to its board. Most recently, he reportedly has explored removing Fed Chair Jerome Powell, whom Trump named to the post only last year.
I have been steeped in economic and monetary policy for decades, including stints at the Fed and the Bank of England. To answer my initial question, yes, you should care a great deal if the Fed were to become less independent. Here’s why.
Balancing the economy’s needs
The Fed has a mandate from Congress to “promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices and moderate long-term interest rates.”
It tries to meet these goals primarily through its ability to set benchmark interest rates, which requires careful balancing the economy’s many different needs.
For example, a central bank may decide to lift interest rates to lower inflation or cool down an overheating economy. But this can be painful for some, such as borrowers who will have to pay more to invest or buy a home – or presidents facing reelection, who don’t want anything slowing down the economy. At other times, the Fed may need to cut rates to give the economy a boost, but this hurts savers and those who depend on a fixed income, such as retirees.
The Fed’s independence from meddling ensures it can make politically difficult decisions that are in the long-term interests of the overall economy – not merely what a particular politician might like.
One measure of this is inflation, or the rate that prices rise over time. Economies that are poorly managed tend to have higher inflation or even hyperinflation, because it erodes the real value of a currency and can lead to destabilization. A 2016 study found a strong correlation between countries with low inflation and more independent central banks.
Putting the economy at risk
Presidents trying to get the Fed to do their bidding is hardly a new thing.
The most famous case is Richard Nixon’s successful effort to get the Fed chairman at the time to cut a key interest rate to stimulate the economy ahead of his reelection bid in 1972. This contributed to the high inflation of the 1970s, which required double-digit interest rates to tame.
In other words, politicization of the Fed puts the entire U.S. economy at risk. So far, it seems Chair Powell has ignored Trump’s calls for monetary stimulus and insists he will serve out his full four-year term.
All Americans should hope Powell stays in his post and continues to try to do what’s best for the economy, not just the president.
Former FBI agent explains why Trump just opened himself to more legal problems
Former FBI agent Asha Rangappa explained that the recent revelations that President Donald Trump made a promise to a foreign leader that made an intelligence official uncomfortable enough to declare themselves a whistleblower.
Rangapp explained that the President has a fairly wide latitude to conduct foreign affairs as he sees fit. But "when it comes to the 'outside world,' the President represents the sovereign: He is basically the voice of the United States and can negotiate with world leaders on its behalf."
Canada’s Trudeau admits to racist ‘brownface’ makeup in high school Halloween costume
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized Wednesday for wearing brownface makeup to a party 18 years ago, as he scrambled to get on top of a fresh blow to a re-election campaign dogged by controversy.
Time magazine published the photograph one week into a federal election campaign with Trudeau's Liberal Party in a tight contest against the Conservatives led by Andrew Scheer.
Trudeau, 47, whose party won a landslide victory in 2015, has already been under attack for an ethics lapse and other controversies.
The black-and-white photograph shows Trudeau, then 29, wearing a turban and robes with his face, neck and hands darkened at a gala party in 2001.
A veteran teacher explains why Trump is incapable of learning
While dyslexia has been mentioned now and then as one of the reasons Donald Trump is so ignorant of what it takes to govern in a free society, I want to explore it as foundational to his inability to learn and grow while in office—and also as a way to link disparate troubling elements in his makeup.