The Fed’s Mission Creep And Inflation, Asset Bubbles And Housing (Taylor Rule Indicates Fed Target Rate Of 4.79%, Rate Currently At 0.25%)

There is no doubt that the US Federal Reserve has strayed from its original mission (a safer, more flexible, and more stable monetary and financial system) to an asset bubble creator and preserver.

The Fed has a dual mandate (thanks to Congress and its Humphrey–Hawkins Full Employment Act of 1978) of fostering economic conditions that achieve both stable prices and maximum sustainable employment. This is a big mission creep — trying to control inflation while controlling unemployment. The Fed has set the target rate for CORE inflation at 2%.

Thanks to The Fed’s massive money printing to counter the Covid outbreak we see core inflation at 3%. Ordinarily, this would result in The Fed Board of Governors (BOG) to raise their Fed Funds Target rate and reduce their asset purchases of Treasuries and Agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS).

But The Fed claims that inflation is “transitory” and isn’t raising rates. Rather, The Fed Funds Target Rate remains at 0.25% while The Fed’s Balance Sheet and M2 Money Stock are at historic highs. Notice that following the financial crisis and housing bubble that help create The Great Recession of 2007-2009 The Fed kept is foot on the monetary accelerator, slowed it down briefly under Yellen, then slammed down on the pedal under Powell (as a result of Covid outbreak in March 2020). Despite the economy growing after 2009, The Fed shifted its focus to asset bubble creation. This implies that the economy never really improved under President Obama. Yellen started easing off the pedal when Trump was elected (see portion of the chart where the target rate is rising and the balance sheet is declining). Again, that stopped with Covid in March 2020.

With the economy growing at 6.4% QoQ and U-3 unemployment down to 6.2%, it seems a logical time to cool off the economy. But as comedian John Belushi would say, “But nooooo!”

As an example of mission creep is The Taylor Rule. If we use the Rudebusch Model, The Fed should be raising its target rate to 4.79% compared to the current target rate of 0.25%.

While one may quibble with the estimation of the Taylor Rule, we can all agree that home prices, commodity prices, S&P500 reported earnings, etc. are skyrocketing.

Here is an open letter from Alexander William Salter, Ph.D. of Texas Tech (a George Mason PhD in economics!) talking about The Fed’s mission creep.

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