Nine months after the very same quartet of republicans, headed by John Boehner, sent a letter to Bernanke protesting the launch of QE2, this time the GOP has waited until a mere 24 hours before the actual announcement with an identical, if preemptive, message, namely: don't print, or stated differently, "we submit that the board should resist further extraordinary intervention in the U.S. economy, particularly without a clear articulation of the goals of such a policy, direction for success, ample data proving a case for economic action and quantifiable benefits to the American people." And while the political undertone of the letter is all too obvious: i.e. prevent any additional Obama-benefiting stimulus in the economy through the only conduit Obama has left, courtesy of Fiscal stimulus being snarled for good due to the republican majority in the House, Boehner et al bring up a valid point, which is that the Fed policy now accentuates market uncertainty and promotes trade wars: precisely the topics discussed in an earlier article today. As stated by Boehner: "Our long-term growth depends on restoring confidence and certainty in our fiscal, regulatory, and trade policies -- and not on government’s willingness to engage in additional stimulative measures. When asset prices increase due to anticipated Federal Reserve policy rather than economic fundamentals, it increases the potential for speculative action and erodes confidence in the economic outlook, making it more difficult to generate sustainable growth." Regardless of its actual merit, one thing is without doubt: QE3, and the Fed, just become once again critically politicized, and as such, even more market uncertainty is imminent. All that said, the theatrical optics of this action are quite glaring.
Dear Chairman Bernanke,
It is our understanding that the Board Members of the Federal Reserve will meet later this week to consider additional monetary stimulus proposals. We write to express our reservations about any such measures. Respectfully, we submit that the board should resist further extraordinary intervention in the U.S. economy, particularly without a clear articulation of the goals of such a policy, direction for success, ample data proving a case for economic action and quantifiable benefits to the American people.
It is not clear that the recent round of quantitative easing undertaken by the Federal Reserve has facilitated economic growth or reduced the unemployment rate. To the contrary, there has been significant concern expressed by Federal Reserve Board Members, academics, business leaders, Members of Congress and the public. Although the goal of quantitative easing was, in part, to stabilize the price level against deflationary fears, the Federal Reserve’s actions have likely led to more fluctuations and uncertainty in our already weak economy.
We have serious concerns that further intervention by the Federal Reserve could exacerbate current problems or further harm the U.S. economy. Such steps may erode the already weakened U.S. dollar or promote more borrowing by overleveraged consumers. To date, we have seen no evidence that further monetary stimulus will create jobs or provide a sustainable path towards economic recovery.
Ultimately, the American economy is driven by the confidence of consumers and investors and the innovations of its workers. The American people have reason to be skeptical of the Federal Reserve vastly increasing its role in the economy if measurable outcomes cannot be demonstrated.
We respectfully request that a copy of this letter be shared with each Member of the Board.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, Rep. John Boehner, Sen. Jon Kyl, Rep. Eric Cantor
And here is the letter sent back on November 17, 2010, after QE2 was already in process:
The Honorable Ben S. Bernanke
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
20th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20551
Dear Chairman Bernanke:
We firmly believe that monetary policy decisions by the U.S. Federal Reserve must be free and independent from political pressures. At the same time, the Federal Reserve should be open to receiving input and data from a wide range of sources. This combination preserves confidence in the credibility and effectiveness of decisions made by the Federal Reserve.
It is with that understanding that we write to express our deep concerns over the recent announcement that the Federal Reserve will purchase additional U.S. Treasury bonds, the so-called Quantitative Easing 2 (QE2). While intended to improve the short-term growth of the U.S. economy and help maintain a stable price level, such a measure introduces significant uncertainty regarding the future strength of the dollar and could result both in hard-to-control, long-term inflation and potentially generate artificial asset bubbles that could cause further economic disruptions.
The Federal Reserve’s recent move has also generated increased criticism and action from other central banks and governments. We appreciate that such comments must be examined within the context of which they have been offered. However, any action taken by our nation or foreign nations that impairs U.S. trade relations at a time when we should be fighting global trade protection measures will only further harm the global economy and could delay recovery in the United States.
Perhaps most damaging, we believe that QE2 is giving the impression that the Federal Reserve will keep making new and different attempts to boost the short-term prospects for the economy. Our long-term growth depends on restoring confidence and certainty in our fiscal, regulatory, and trade policies -- and not on government’s willingness to engage in additional stimulative measures. When asset prices increase due to anticipated Federal Reserve policy rather than economic fundamentals, it increases the potential for speculative action and erodes confidence in the economic outlook, making it more difficult to generate sustainable growth.
We hope you and the other Board Members will keep these concerns in mind as you review and discuss these issues in the coming months.
Member of Congress
Member of Congress