The Federal Reserve's Crony CapitalismSubmitted by bobbyw24 on Mon, 02/06/2012 - 08:57
The Federal Reserve’s decision to release forecasts for short-term interest rates is supposed to clarify monetary policy and reassure the public. By keeping the federal funds rate close to zero for three more years, and switching from shorter to longer-term securities, the Fed hopes to spur investment and growth. The problem is that manipulating interest rates and allocating credit to favored parties fosters crony capitalism, not market liberalism.
Clarity in capital markets is not improved by distorting interest rates, which are relative prices. Nor is monetary policy improved by engaging in fiscal policy and the allocation of credit. Targeting inflation at 2 percent is 2 percent too much. Nominal interest rates should reflect real interest rates in a world of zero inflation, if they are to perform their function of allocating capital efficiently.
By pegging nominal interest rates at artificially low levels, the Fed is penalizing millions of people who have their assets in saving accounts or money market funds and are getting near zero nominal returns. With CPI inflation of 3 percent in 2011, the real rate on those assets is negative. The Fed’s low interest rate policy, designed to help fund big government and stimulate housing, is decapitalizing many households who do not want to take on more risky assets. Private virtue is being penalized by public vice.