When the Federal Reserve artificially manipulates interest rates, it’s messing with our minds by distorting important signals that prices provide in a free market. As investment guru Jim Grant put it in a recent article in Barron’s, central bank interest rates are nothing but crude price controls.
Like all price controls, the Fed’s interest rate mechanizations create some winners and some losers. But in the long run, the distortions caused by the central bank’s interventionist monetary policy makes us all losers.
Central bankers and politicians think they can run the economy.
In this episode of the Friday Gold Wrap, host Mike Maharrey digs into some fundamental economic theories that explain why these central planners will always fail, no matter how noble their intentions.
After Jerome Powell indicated that the Federal Reserve tightening cycle was on pause during last week’s FOMC meeting, Peter Schiff said, “The monetary drug pushers at the Federal Reserve gave the addicts on Wall Street exactly the fix that they had been craving.”
Peter often compares the markets to drug addicts. They are addicted to the easy money the central bank provides. Reuters used that same imagery to describe America’s business community in the wake of the “loose money era,” saying it left a “trail of US corporate debt junkies.
What can skyscrapers tell us about the state of the economy?
A lot actually. In fact, you can predict economic crashes by looking at skyscraper construction, as economist Mark Thornton explains in this episode of It’s Your Dime.
We talk a lot about how central banks serve as the primary force driving the business cycle. When a recession hits, central banks like the Federal Reserve drive interest rates down and launch quantitative easing to stimulate the economy. Once the recovery takes hold, the Fed tightens its monetary policy, raising interest rates and ending QE. When the recovery appears to be in full swing, the central bank shrinks its balance sheet. This sparks the next recession and the cycle repeats itself.
This is a layman’s explanation of the business cycle. But how do the maneuverings of central banks actually impact the economy? How does this work?
The Yield Curve Accordion Theory is one way to visually grasp exactly what the Fed and other central banks are doing. Westminster College assistant professor of economics Hal W. Snarr explained this theory in a recent Mises Wire article.