In a somewhat shocking admission of its own un-omnipotence, or perhaps more of a C.Y.A. moment for the inevitable mean-reversion to reality, Reuters reports that San Francisco Fed President John Williams said Friday that low neutral interest rates are a warning sign of possible changes in the U.S. economy that the central bank does not fully understand. With Japan having been there for decades, and the rest of the developed world there for 6 years...
Suddenly, just weeks away from what The Fed would like the market to believe is the first rate hike in almost a decade, Williams decides now it is the time to admit the central planners might be missing a factor (and carefully demands better fiscal policy)... (as Reuters reports)
"I see this as more of a warning, a red flag that there's something going on here that isn't in the models, that we maybe don't understand as well as we think, and we should dig down deep deeper and try to figure this out better," said San Francisco Federal Reserve President John Williams on Friday pointing out that low neutral interest rates are a warning sign of possible changes in the U.S. economy that the central bank does not fully understand.
Williams, who is a voting member of the Fed's policy-setting panel through the end of the year, has said the central bank should begin to raise interest rates soon but thereafter go at a gradual pace; ironically adding that the low neutral interest rate had "pretty significant" implications for monetary policy, and put more focus on fiscal policy as a response.
"If we could come up with better fiscal policy, find a way to have the economy grow faster or have a stronger natural rate of interest, then that takes the pressure off of us to try to come up with other ways to do it, like through a large balance sheet or having a higher inflation target," Williams said. "It also means we don't have to turn to quantitative easing and other policies as much."
As we noted previously, depending on the importance of the credit channel, the Federal Reserve, by pegging the short term rate at zero, have essentially removed one recessionary market mechanism that used to efficiently clear excesses within the financial system.
While stability obsessed Keynesians on a quest to the permanent boom regard this as a positive development, the rest of us obviously understand that false stability breeds instability.
It is clear to us that the FOMC in its quest to maintain stability is breeding instability and that previous attempts at the same failed miserably with dire consequences for society. We are sure it is only a matter for time before it happens again.
And thus, Williams' warning now seems oddly-timed at best, and cover-your-ass tactics at worst perhaps "the matter of time" is about to bite once again...