Now that the Fed is in the
unconventional zone of monetary policy with Fed funds effectively at zero why
not hold a press conference after the FOMC meeting today to explain what
measures the Fed is taking to provide stimulus to the economy as traditional
monetary policy is used up and not having any measureable impact.
Bernanke and others who have
looked into unconventional (or nonconventional) monetary policy have stressed
the need to be transparent and use the power of the pulpit to explain monetary
policy and counter deflation psychology (clearly has arrived in spades).
If much of the current malaise is being driven by a loss of confidence among
consumers, firms and investors, why not have the Fed come out of its closet of
secrecy and talk to the world about what it is up to? Recalls a Few Good
Men and â€śyou canâ€™t handle the truth.â€ť Or more aptly the Wizard of Ozâ€¦get
behind the screen and then the worrying really startsâ€¦the Fed does not know a
lot more than the rest of us.
I did find it noteworthy
that after the last FOMC meeting and issue of the statement a senior Fed
official held a conference call with about a dozen journalists (print, wire and
TV) and only took questions from reportersâ€¦a first. I donâ€™t know which
Fed official was on the line but I would bet my deflated assets it was either
Bernanke or Kohn. So the Fed is clearly moving out of the closet of
secrecy now that it has crossed into a parallel universe of unconventional
monetary policy called credit easing (not to be confused with quantitative
easing which the BOJ sullied).
So how about it Benâ€¦conduct
a press conference today to show the world the Fed is all in on the banking and
economic crises or as President Obama likes to say economic emergency (Bush
administration decided late in Q4 of 2008 to drop the glass is spilling over
view of the crisis but never called the problems a crisis or emergency).
I am not counting on a press
conference today, but at the very least look for another conference call with
the press after the statement is out to take questions and clarify any
confusion over credit easing steps â€“ presumably there will be new measures
announced today (see Tuesdayâ€™s email). My sense is that the Obama
administration is not of the opinion that the Fed is out of ammo and more
importantly should be quiet as a church mouse on communicating unconventional
monetary policy ahead. If my hunch is right about a fresh shock and awe
campaign from the Fed today is right, and it involves things most of us are
unfamiliar with (anything beyond a change in Fed funds target), then it is
crucial the Fed gets in front of the public and explains itselfâ€¦something a few
sentences in an FOMC statement canâ€™t possibly address.
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