Friday, 26 August 2016

Investors wait for Jackson Hole meeting amid debate over wider impact of Fed policy

Global markets were subdued on Thursday ahead of the start of a central bankers' meeting in Jackson Hole on Friday.

The S&P 500 fell 0.1 percent while crude oil rose 1.2 percent.

Central bankers are not the only ones attending the meeting in Jackson Hole. The Fed Up coalition, a pro-workers group, will also be at the meeting sidelines.

A paper published on Monday that Fed Up organiser Jordan Haedtler co-wrote with Dartmouth College economist Andrew Levin and the Economic Policy Institute’s Valerie Wilson recommended that it is “appropriate” for the Fed to consider employment and wages in setting the course of monetary policy “but the transcripts of FOMC meetings provide little evidence that Fed officials have actually done so”.

The Richmond Fed's economics writer Helen Fessenden and economist Gary Richardson on Tuesday published an economic brief addressing Fed Up’s concerns, saying that “monetary policy alone is not a sufficient or particularly well-designed tool to address inequality”.

Actually, the Fed has already shown itself willing to go beyond the strict confines of monetary policy, except that it was not to help workers but banks.

Back in 2009, following the Great Recession, John Hussman wrote:

Senator Richard Shelby made an important observation last week that the Federal Reserve's intervention in the Bear Stearns' wipeout dangerously crossed the line from monetary policy to fiscal policy. I couldn't agree more. The Fed's actions in that case were outside of its mandate precisely because by taking Bear's assets into its own portfolio, the Fed effectively provided public funds to a private corporation without recourse if the collateral goes bad. Only Congress has that power. It was literally an illegal act, but it was also done so quickly that it was presented as an irreversible fait accompli...

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