Thursday, April 17, 2008
German weekly Der Spiegel inspires some of the most uncomfortable imagery yet in this commentary describing the state of U.S. central banking, likening the current and former Fed chairmen to two long-time entertainers in Las Vegas.
The dollar is in a tailspin, the trade deficit is growing and a recession is on the horizon. The American way of life is in serious danger. But the head of the Federal Reserve keeps on pumping easy credit into the system -- a crazy policy that will worsen the crisis.The article is titled "The Madness of Ben Bernanke" (hat tip Patrick.net) and is well worth reading in its entirety - the Germans have an understandably different view of how central banks should be run given their experience of some 80 years ago during the Weimar Republic.
Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke have more in common with the big cat entertainers Siegfried & Roy than any of us can be comfortable with.
The Las Vegas magicians call themselves "Masters of the Impossible" and have been fascinating audiences for decades by getting snow-white tigers to leap through burning rings.
The legendary Federal Reserve Chairman and his successor were equally adept at fascinating their audiences -- with a policy of miraculous monetary growth that gave America one of the longest periods of economic expansion in modern times. Many saw them as "Masters of the Universe." It seemed as if the central bankers had tamed predatory capitalism with their constant interest rate cuts.
Siegfried & Roy at times seemed at one with their cats, until the day everything went out of control. A tiger bit Roy in the neck during a show and looked as though it were about to devour him alive.
Greenspan and Bernanke too have lost their magic touch, and their image has been shredded by the real estate crisis and the dollar slide. The ravages of the financial markets aren't doing them any personal harm. But devalued stocks, bad mortgage loans and the diving dollar are damaging millions of small investors and savers.
It's as if the tiger has leapt of the stage and is mauling the audience. We can't blame wild cats or financial markets for being ruthless. It's in their nature to be brutal. Their unmistakeable message is: you can take things this far and no further.