Re: Bernanke


On 11 Jan 2008 11:17:34 +0000, Prof. P. Arestis wrote:
>   Dear Warren,
>   Many thanks. Some good comments below.
>   The paragraph that I think is of some importance is this:
> >  The Committee will, of course, be carefully evaluating incoming
> >  information bearing on the economic outlook. Based on that evaluation,
> >  and consistent with our dual mandate, we stand ready to take
> >  substantive additional action as needed to support growth and to
> >  provide adequate insurance against downside risks.
>   If I am not wrong this is the first time for Bernanke that the word
>   inflation does not appear explicitly in his relevant statement. But also
>   there is no mention of anything relevant that might capture their motto
>   that winning the battle against inflation is both necessary and sufficient
>   for their dual mandate.
>   Are the economic beliefs of BB changing, I wonder? I rather doubt it but
>   see what you think.

Dear Philip,

I see this is all part of the Bernanke conumdrum.

Implied is that their forecasts call for falling inflation and well anchored expectations, which can only mean continued modest wage increases.

They believe inflation expectations operate through two channels-accelerated purchases and wage demands.

Their forecasts use futures prices of non perishable commodities including food and energy. They don’t seem to realize the
‘backwardation’ term structure of futures prices (spot prices higher than forward prices) is how futures markets express shortages.

Instead, the Fed models use the futures prices as forecasts of where prices will be in the future.

So a term structure for the primary components of CPI that is screaming ‘shortage’ is being read for purposes of monetary policy as a deflation forecast.

Bernanke also fears convertible currency/fixed fx implosions which are far more severe than non convertible currency/floating fx slumps. Even in Japan, for example, there was never a credit supply side constraint – credit worthy borrowers were always able to borrow (and at very low rates) in spite of a near total systemic bank failure. And the payments system continued to function. Contrast that with the collapse in Argentina, Russia, Mexico, and the US in the 30’s which were under fixed fx and gold standard regimes.

It’s like someone with a diesel engine worrying about the fuel blowing up. It can’t. Gasoline explodes, diesel doesn’t. But someone who’s studied automobile explosions when fuel tanks ruptured in collisions, and doesn’t understand the fundamental difference, might be unduly worried about an explosion with his diesel car.

More losses today, but none that directly diminish aggregate demand or alter the supply side availability of credit.

And while the world does seem to be slowing down some, as expected, the call on Saudi oil continues at about 9 million bpd,
so the twin themes of moderating demand and rising food/fuel/import prices remains.

I also expect core CPI to continue to slowly rise for an extended period of time even if food/fuel prices stay at current levels as
these are passed through via the cost structure with a lag.

All the best,


>  Best wishes,
>  Philip