Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, whom President Joe Biden bizarrely wants to reappoint for another four-year term, made his own incompetence crystal clear on Tuesday by belatedly acknowledging that this year’s rampant inflation isn’t “transitory” after all.
Powell’s admission served merely to highlight how far behind the inflationary curve he and the Fed have been all year. Powell and the Fed bear at least half the blame for the highest price inflation rate in 30 years (with Biden and congressional Democrats deserving the rest).
It was under Powell’s prodding that the Fed, against all evidence and logic, continued its policies of combining near-zero interest rates with stupendously aggressive asset purchases. Each policy on its own would ordinarily lead the money supply to grow at jet speed; together, they make the money supply skyrocket. And, of course, absent an almost unprecedented concomitant growth in productivity and other unusual factors, a skyrocketing money supply obviously leads to price inflation.
At least as early as April, the inflation genie had crawled almost all the way out of her bottle, and many analysts had warned months earlier that Powell’s policies were foolish. Yet as prices rose month after month, Powell kept insisting the inflation was “transitory” — until now. Even now, Powell won’t admit an error in policy or in analysis, but only in his word choice.
“We tend to use [the word transitory] to mean that it won’t leave a permanent mark in the form of higher inflation,” Powell told Congress on Tuesday. “I think it’s probably a good time to retire that word and try to explain more clearly what we mean.”
Powell is brazenly dissembling here. The problem wasn’t how he communicated earlier this year; it was what he communicated. What he meant then, and what everyone knew he meant, was that the early-year inflation would be just a blip lasting a few months but that when the smoke cleared, the annual inflation rate would be down near the Fed’s top-line target of 2%.
He and his Federal Reserve colleagues were dead wrong, especially with Biden (and, to an extent, President Donald Trump before him) joining Congress in a series of inflationary federal spending binges. Even as lawmakers spent profligately, the Fed continued its own inflationary policies. The public is now suffering the consequences, with prices considerably outpacing wage growth, meaning the average standard of living is falling for the first time in years.
Even now, while saying the Fed may, repeat, just may significantly slow down its asset purchases, Powell still insists that somehow, inflation will fall in 2022, as if by magic, back to the 2% target.
Enough is enough. Powell is a disaster. The public should not be forced to suffer the (lost) wages of his incompetence for four more years. Biden should withdraw Powell’s renomination and find a sound-dollar advocate to lead the Fed. Under Powell’s policies, inflation certainly will not be transitory, but his stint as the nation’s chief central banker ought not last.