A Limited Central Bank
John Mauldin | Nov 20, 2013
This week’s Outside the Box is unusual, even for a letter that is noted for its unusual offerings. It is a speech from last week by Charles I. Plosser, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia at (surprisingly to me) the Cato Institute’s 31st Annual Monetary Conference, Washington, DC.
I suppose that if Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher had delivered this speech I would not be terribly surprised. I suspect there are some other Federal Reserve officials here and there whoare in sympathy with this view Plosser presents here, but for quite some time no serious Fed official has outlined the need for a limited Federal Reserve in the way Plosser does today. He essentially proposes four limits on the US Federal Reserve:
“These steps would yield a more limited central bank. In doing so, they would help preserve the central bank’s independence, thereby improving the effectiveness of monetary policy, and they would make it easier for the public to hold the Fed accountable for its policy decisions.”
Some of you will want to read this deeply, but everyone should read the beginning and ending. I find this one of the most hopeful documents I have read in a long time. Think about the position of the person who delivered the speech. You are not alone in your desire to rein in the Fed.
Two points before we turn to the speech. Both Fisher and Plosser will be voting members of the FOMC this coming year. Look at the lineup and the philosophical monetary view of each of the members of the FOMC. Next year we could actually see three dissenting votes if things are not moving in a positive direction, although another serious proponent of monetary easing is being added to the Committee, so it may be that nothing will really change.
I am not seriously suggesting that the reigning economic theory that directs the action of the Fed is going to change anytime soon, but you will see assorted academics espousing a different viewpoint here and there. I think there may come a time in the not-too-distant future when the current Keynesian viewpoint is going to be somewhat discredited and people will be open to a new way to run things. This will not happen due to some great shift in philosophical views but because the current system has the potential to create some rather serious problems in the future. This is part of the message in my latest book, Code Red.
A lot of education and change in the system is needed. I want to applaud Alan Howard and his team at Brevan Howard for making one of the largest donations in business education history to Imperial College to establish the new Brevan Howard Centre for Financial Analysis to study exactly these topics and counter what is a particularly bad direction in academia. The two leaders at the new center, Professors Franklin Allen and Douglas Gale, are renowned for their pioneering research into financial crises and market contagion – that is, when relatively small shocks in financial institutions spread and grow, severely damaging the wider economy. This new center will help offer a better perspective. What we teach our kids matters. I hope other major fund managers will join this effort!
And speaking of Code Red, let me pass on a few quick reviews from Amazon:
“Excellent review of our current economic circumstances and what we can do about it to protect our assets. Even better, it is written with the non-economist in mind.”
“I read this book from cover to cover in 24 hours and was glued to every page. Do I know how to protect my saving exactly? No. But I have the critical information necessary to make informed decisions about my investments. My husband recommended this book to me after reading a brief article, and I'm so glad I impulsively bought it. It will definitely change my investment decisions moving forward and perhaps even provide me with more restful nights of sleep.”
You can order your own copy at the Mauldin Economics website or at Amazon, and it is likely at your local book store.
It is getting down to crunch time here in Dallas as far as the move to the new apartment is concerned. Work is coming along and most of it is done, although some things will need to be finished after I move in. Furniture is being delivered and moved in as I write, and today an the new kitchen is being entirely stocked, courtesy of Williams-Sonoma – they'll be showing up in a few minutes. I am fulfilling a long-held dream (maybe even a fantasy or fetish) of throwing everything out of the kitchen and starting over from scratch. Between my kids and a returning missionary couple, all the old stuff will find a new home, and I will renew my role as chief chef with new relish next week.
I have always maintained that I think I am a pretty good writer but I a brilliant cook. With a new kitchen from top to bottom, I intend to spend more time developing my true talent. Between the new media room and my cooking, I hope I can persuade the kids (and their kids!) to come around more often. Yes, there are a few bumps and issues here and there, but in general life is going well. I just need to get into the gym more. Which we should all probably do!
Your feeling like a kid in a candy store analyst,
John Mauldin, Editor
Outside the Box
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