Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Fed has Gone Rogue, But Mishkin is Still in Deep Denial

More fear mongering drama from former Federal Reserve Board Governor Fredrick (Ric) Mishkin on the Ron Paul led "audit the Fed" bill moving through Congress. Mishkin describes the bill as a serious "attack" on the Fed and calling it really "dangerous" stuff (see video below).
Is this fear mongering justified? Not at all. As the Firecracker Report has highlighted earlier, auditing the Fed will not impede its independence in setting interest rates - which Mishkin cites as his biggest fear. To claim it will, is akin to saying that Walmart's accountants can influence its pricing strategy and business decisions. As Ron Paul explains in a letter published today:
I was pleased last week when we won a vote in the Financial Services Committee to include language from the Audit the Fed bill HR1207 in the upcoming financial regulatory reform bill. As it stands now, if HR 3996 passes, because of this action, the Federal Reserve’s entire balance sheet will be opened up to a GAO audit. We will at last have a chance to find out what happened to the trillions of dollars the Fed has been giving out.
Finally, the blanket restrictions on GAO audits of the Fed that have existed since 1978 will be removed. All items on the Fed’s balance sheet will be auditable, including all credit facilities, all securities purchase programs, and all agreements with foreign central banks. To calm fears that we might be trying to substitute congressional action for Fed mischief in tinkering with monetary policy, we agreed to a 180 day lag time before details of the Fed’s market actions are released and included language to state explicitly that nothing in the amendment should be construed as interference in or dictation of monetary policy by Congress or the GAO.
David Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff chimes in on this fear mongering: "Memo to Mr. Mishkin, the Fed has never been truly independent and once you have sacrificed the sanctity of the balance sheet by adding housing loans and channeling credit in general through the economy you have basically become a de facto political institution in any event"
Perhaps the single biggest reason we should demand an audit is to examine whether giving the Fed full independence in printing money (without any congressional approval) is really justified. While the $700 billion TARP bailout that Congress approved caused immense public outrage, there was not a whimper to be heard when the Fed decided to print $1.75 trillion dollars to buyback MBS and Treasuries. Even more stunning is the fact that this decision to print trillions did not require any congressional approval. The American democractic system failed miserably when it came the Fed. How can an institution that has the power to single handedly destory our currency not subject itself to an audit?
In conclusion, all of Mishkin's Fed independence talk is purely a diversion tactic. His main reason for not wanting an audit is because he is fearful of what skeletons we many uncover in the Fed's closet. So with all due respect Mr. Mishkin, an unaudited Fed coupled with your untruthful independence talk, is the "real" dangerous stuff.

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