Will the Fed Be in Charge of Systemic Risk?

Is the Fed getting to much regulatory power? Government and private-sector officials fear Obama’s new financial plan will concentrate too much power in the hands of the Federal Reserve. If the central bank’s focus was expanded to also included the supervision of large financial institutions considered ‘too big to fail in order to prevent systemic risk, some assert that it might end up turning the Fed into a very powerful entity. CNBC’s Larry Kudlow had a few thoughts on the subject:

LK: The big winner of the Obama financial-regulation plan appears to be the Federal Reserve, which becomes the consolidated supervisor of large, systemically important banks.

This is like the fox guarding the henhouse. After all, the Fed’s overly loose money policies created the asset bubble — including housing, commodities, and energy — in the first place. Near-zero interest rates, huge money growth, and total disregard for the plunging dollar are what set up the housing boom and the unfortunate overleveraging by consumers, mortgage borrowers, and Wall Street securitizers.

It also set up the astronomical $150 oil shock, which came alongside the Fed’s overly tight money policies to offset the prior loose policies that would cause this credit crunch and deep recession. In fact, looking back to the last two bubbles — the tech bubble of 1999-2000 and the housing/energy bubble after that — it was the Fed’s pillar-to-post go-stop-go-stop lurches that deserve the principal blame for the economic messes that ensued.

The Great Moderation of the ’80s and ’90s has given way to extremism in Fed policy. And we may be in danger of repeating it all over again, with a new round of near-zero interest rates and a massive 11 percent growth of M2 over the past nine months. …

Missing from the package is a reform that would put Fed monetary policy back on a commodity-price rule, including gold and the dollar. This rule was basically used from the early ’80s to the late ’90s, during Paul Volcker’s Fed term and the first half of Alan Greenspan’s term. This would have been the best-possible reform, but of course it’s not in the proposal.

So now the Fed has become the supreme Keynesian unemployment vs. growth Philips-curve tinkerer. Until this totally mistaken policy is changed, we can have ten more reregulation plans that will not fix the real problem.

emphasis added

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