As a U.S. senator, Hillary Clinton helped arrange for $1.65 billion in low-interest, federally guaranteed “Liberty Bonds” (supposedly earmarked for post-9/11 rebuilding in New York City) to subsidize the construction of Goldman Sachs’ gleaming new headquarters building in Lower Manhattan. During the 2005 groundbreaking ceremony for the project, she affectionately called the firm her “partner in government.” Three years later she supported the $10 billion Federal Reserve bailout of her too-big-to-jail “partner.” In return, Goldman paid her at least $675,000 for three speeches; has donated huge sums to her campaign; and recently prohibited its employees from donating anything to the Trump campaign. Her son-in-law was handed a hedge fund to manage by the CEO of Goldman Sachs (and reportedly lost 90% of the fund’s value).
So it was no surprise that Hillary feigned great offense at Donald Trump’s recent criticism of the Federal Reserve Board’s policy of “easy money” that pushes interest rates close to zero. “You should not be commenting on Fed actions when you are either running for president or you are president,” she indignantly declared.
Hillary Clinton apparently believes that there are four branches of government, not three and that the fourth branch – the Sacred Fed – should never be criticized by any of the other three. It’s OK for President Obama to criticize the Supreme Court during a state-of-the-union address; and for congress and the executive branch to engage in verbal sparring on a daily basis; but no president (let alone a lowly congressman) should ever make a negative comment about the Sacred Fed, according to the Hillary Doctrine.
This new Clintonian theory of American politics is yet another defense of the corrupt system of Fed-financed crony capitalism that enriches companies like Goldman Sachs with cheap credit and government bailouts. In return, the crony capitalists finance the careers and lifestyles of fabulously wealthy politicians like the Clintons. The Fed is the main financing mechanism of this racket, which is why Hillary wants to isolate it from criticism. In her world, any criticism of the Sacred Fed is, well, deplorable.
As David Stockman wrote in The Great Deformation, “the central banking branch of the state remains hostage to the Wall Street speculators who threaten a hissy fit sell-off unless they are juiced again and again. Monetary policy has thus become an engine of reverse Robin Hood redistribution; it [espouses] theories that punish Main Street savers [with near-zero interest rates], workers, and businessmen while creating endless opportunities . . . for speculative gain in the Wall Street casino.”
Stockman points out that in early 2008 it was not so much “the economy” that was crashing but the stock prices of companies like Goldman Sachs. The company was “handed $10 billion [by the Fed] to save itself from alleged extinction. Yet it then swivelled on a dime and generated a $29 billion surplus” that funded “$16 billion in salary and bonuses” for Goldman Sachs executives in that one year. The Fed also purchased more than $100 billion in basically worthless illiquid toxic assets from Goldman Sachs.
The $180 billion bailout of the insurance company AIG was “all about protecting short-term earnings and current-year executive and trader bonuses” as well, since 90% of the company’s assets were solvent, writes Stockman. (Goldman Sachs also had $18 billion in claims against AIG, which it was able to collect thanks to the bailout).
Contrary to Hillary Clinton’s “Never Question the Fed” theory, presidents and members of Congress have always commented on Fed policy as a matter of course. In a 1978 article in the academic Journal of Monetary Economics, economist Robert Weintraub explained how a long line of presidents influenced Fed policy with their public statements. When President Eisenhower feared inflation and expressed a wish for slower monetary growth, the Fed complied with the slowest monetary growth in a decade. President Kennedy then advocated more rapid monetary growth and the Fed accommodated him as well.
President Johnson wanted even more rapid monetary growth to finance his expansion of the welfare state and the Vietnam War, and the Fed complied by more than doubling the rate of growth of the money supply. President Nixon’s reelection was all but assured by the actions of the Fed, which grew the money supply in 1972 faster than in any other year since the end of World War II. When Nixon’s successor, President Ford, campaigned against inflation the Fed got the hint and slowed monetary growth, only to rev it up again when President Carter expressed a wish for faster growth.
What all of this means is that the Fed is an engine of political corruption and economicinstability. It has generated inflation rather than controlling it (the dollar is worth less than 5% of its value in 1913, the year the Fed was created); has caused endless boom-and-bust cycles such as the 2008 real estate market crash; hides the true cost of government, especially the costs of war; and generates what economists call a “political business cycle” as described by Robert Weintraub’s research.
Donald Trump – like former Congressman Ron Paul – is not only within his rights and in keeping with American history to criticize the Fed, but is performing a desperately-needed public service in doing so. He is a businessman and not an economist, but his economic instincts regarding the Fed are right on the money. He has criticized it for creating a “bubble economy,” especially a stock market bubble. His latest criticism is essentially the economically-sound notion that price controls are always and everywhere a bad and destructive idea, and the Fed’s policy of “interest rate targeting” is nothing but price control dressed up in fancy economic lingo. He hasn’t yet called for an end to the Fed, perhaps because he fears that it might cause Hillary to have another seizure.