The waiting is the hardest part.
But soon financial markets may know a little bit more about Fed monetary policy than they know right now. At 2pm eastern time, the Fed will release its latest statement on policy followed by its latest forecast for the economy. Then Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will host a news conference which could potentially provide more insight into Fed policy.
The financial markets will be listening for anything Bernanke says or the Fed statement suggests about when the Fed will start to taper its $85 billion monthly purchases of Treasuries and mortgage securities.
Former White House budget director David Stockman tells The Daily Ticker, “I don’t think there’s any consensus or keen understanding about how they back out of this, how fast they do it, how they communicate it.”
Stockman says the Fed’s asset purchases, known as quantitative easing (or QE), and near zero interest rates policy is wrong-headed.
“We experimented. We violated every rule of sound money, every tradition that ever existed of what a central bank does on the theory that there was going to a great depression if we didn’t.”
But the reality, says Stockman, was different—a severe recession was in the making because of “the housing and credit boom” fueled by the Fed’s policy of low interest rates under Chairman Alan Greenspan and then Ben Bernanke. “It wasn’t going to be a Great Depression,” says Stockman. And now, says Stockman, “ All this cheap money is doing nothing but creating a temporary illusion of recovery setting us up for the next fall.”
Chairman Bernanke’s news conference today could conceivably be among his last at the Fed. His term is up on January 31, 2014 and he’s not expected to remain.
Weeks ago a Fed spokesman announced that Bernanke would not be attending the annual Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium. That is very unusual given that the meeting, sponsored by the Kansas City Fed, is traditionally a forum for a Fed chairman since it attracts the top government economists and financial leaders around the globe.
Then, this past Monday night, President Obama told Charlie Rose on PBS that “Ben Bernanke’s done an outstanding job” but has “already stayed a lot longer than he wanted or he was supposed to.”
Stockman won’t miss Bernanke if he goes. “He has overstayed his welcome by as long as he’s been there.”
So who should replace him?
"We need to go back to someone like Tom Hoenig or somebody who understands what sound money is about… a son of Volcker if you can find one of them.”
Needless to say Stockman does not favor Vice Chair Janet Yellen to replace Bernanke. She’s among the rumored frontrunners for the job, a list that also includes Former Treasury Secretaries Tim Geithner (under Obama) and Larry Summers (under Clinton).
Whether you agree with Stockman or not about the Fed or Bernanke, watch the video above if you want some more perspective on the Fed's latest policy decision.
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