A not very long time ago, in a galaxy known as the Milky Way, the member of an occult group of sinister individuals warned that should this group ever get to a point where it believed it could fix fiscal problems through printing money, this would present “a paramount risk to the long-term welfare of the U.S. economy.” The group is better known as the Federal Reserve and the individual was Dallas Fed president Richard Fisher. The same Richard Fisher, who recently wrote about the FinReg unaddressed concept of how Too Big To Fail will lead to another massive systemic crash, went as far as saying that “even the perception that the Fed is pursuing a cheap-money strategy to accommodate fiscal burdens” would be disastrous, and that “the Federal Reserve will never let this happen. It is not an option. Ever. Period.” Boy, was he wrong.
Nonetheless, Fisher’s speech from May 28, 2008 before the Commonwealth Club of California, should be read by all Keynesian fanatics as it is without doubt one of the most lucid presentations of rational thought from the ranks of the Fed. With observations such as that “we know from centuries of evidence in countless economies, from ancient Rome to today’s Zimbabwe, that running the printing press to pay off today’s bills leads to much worse problems later on”, one may only hope that all those who advocate even more rampant spending and irresponsible money printing to “fix” the economy, will finally see the light. Alas, mired in their own stupidity, they won’t. And Fisher’s words, so prescient in 2008, yet so ignored, will suffer the same fate today, and the Fed will continue on its way to singlehandedly destroying this once great country.
Key excerpts from Federal Reserve member Richard Fisher’s speech (please forward to your representatives):
The even more disturbing dark and dirty secret about deficits—especially when they careen out of control—is that they create political pressure on central bankers to adopt looser monetary policy down the road. I will return to that shortly. First, let me give you the unvarnished facts of our nation’s fiscal predicament…
…It is only natural to cast about for a solution—any solution—to avoid the fiscal pain we know is necessary because we succumbed to complacency and put off dealing with this looming fiscal disaster. Throughout history, many nations, when confronted by sizable debts they were unable or unwilling to repay, have seized upon an apparently painless solution to this dilemma: monetization. Just have the monetary authority run cash off the printing presses until the debt is repaid, the story goes, then promise to be responsible from that point on and hope your sins will be forgiven by God and Milton Friedman and everyone else.
We know from centuries of evidence in countless economies, from ancient Rome to today’s Zimbabwe, that running the printing press to pay off today’s bills leads to much worse problems later on. The inflation that results from the flood of money into the economy turns out to be far worse than the fiscal pain those countries hoped to avoid.
Earlier I mentioned the Fed’s dual mandate to manage growth and inflation. In the long run, growth cannot be sustained if markets are undermined by inflation. Stable prices go hand in hand with achieving sustainable economic growth. I have said many, many times that inflation is a sinister beast that, if uncaged, devours savings, erodes consumers’ purchasing power, decimates returns on capital, undermines the reliability of financial accounting, distracts the attention of corporate management, undercuts employment growth and real wages, and debases the currency.
Purging rampant inflation and a debased currency requires administering a harsh medicine. We have been there, and we know the cure that was wrought by the FOMC under Paul Volcker. Even the perception that the Fed is pursuing a cheap-money strategy to accommodate fiscal burdens, should it take root, is a paramount risk to the long-term welfare of the U.S. economy. The Federal Reserve will never let this happen. It is not an option. Ever. Period.
Of late, we have heard many complaints about the weakness of the dollar against the euro and other currencies. It was recently argued in the op-ed pages of the Financial Times  that one reason for the demise of the British pound was the need to liquidate England’s international reserves to pay off the costs of the Great Wars. In the end, the pound, it was essentially argued, was sunk by the kaiser’s army and Hitler’s bombs. Right now, we—you and I—are launching fiscal bombs against ourselves. You have it in your power as the electors of our fiscal authorities to prevent this destruction. Please do so.