by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
It’s a plague that besets our nation, threatening our peace, the safety of our children, indeed our well-being. I speak, of course, of clowns.
Creepy clowns, lurking in plain sight. Not some ghastly figure with Oompa Loompa orange skin and a petrified crown of yellow hair, or a seemingly staid matron with a horrifyingly cringe-inducing cackle when amused. No, these are circus-like clowns with painted-on grins, albeit incongruently fearsome ones. They’re popping up everywhere, causing panic among the populace and grim warnings from the authorities in what purports to be the land of the free and the home of the brave. …
… The central bankers’ conjuring, for all of the paper wealth it has created, has produced much less than expected in terms of jobs and output. But some academics assert that this is because the medicine should have been administered in even stronger dosages. Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers recently endorsed having the Federal Reserve purchase corporate debt and equity securities, a move that Janet Yellen, the U.S. central bank’s chair, indicated wouldn’t be out of the question in a future crisis.
A backlash appears to be developing, however. There always have been dissenters to the notion that money printing, to use the pre-electronic-age parlance, could produce real prosperity. These critics mostly toiled far from the groves of academe and apart from the mainstream of financial economists. Most recently, their gripe has been that whatever inflation has occurred has been mainly in asset prices, which has failed to produce the general benefit predicted by monetary officials. …
… In a sharp criticism of current economic orthodoxy, British Prime Minister Theresa May last week pointedly spoke of policies’ “bad side effects.” After the crash, “superlow interest rates and quantitative easing” provided “necessary medicine,” she acknowledged. The after effects had been unintended, however. “People with assets have got richer. People without have suffered. People with mortgages have found their debts cheaper. People with savings have found themselves poorer,” as May astringently summed up the situation, which applies not only to the United Kingdom, but also to much of the English-speaking world, including the U.S.
Monetary policy has attracted political criticism rarely witnessed in more than a generation.