In October 20XX. That’s not a typo. To reach the best guesstimate of when the next recession will begin, we need to understand how the Federal Reserve creates unsustainable booms and why the next bust may be just around the corner.
A caveat is in order. As physicist Niels Bohr exclaimed, “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.” Nevertheless, I will weigh in fearlessly with my 10 cents. The Fed’s inflationary policies have increased my two cents fivefold. Maybe the next cryptocurrency is on the horizon: My 10 Cents.
If a dog can have a crypto, why can’t a retired finance professor who warned the public that prices were about to accelerate due to the Fed’s inflationary policies in the spring of 1976 have one?
Consumer prices rose 5.7% in 1976, 6.5% in 1977, 7.6% in 1978, 11.3% in 1979 and 13.5% in 1980. Talk about being right on the money!
As inflation was galloping throughout his presidency, then President Jimmy Carter appointed Paul Volcker, a former banker and U.S. Treasury official, in 1979 to halt the multiyear price spiral. Volcker succeeded spectacularly. Consumer prices rose 10.3% in 1981, revealing how inflation momentum can continue for a while before the Fed’s tight money policies slay the inflation dragon. In 1982, prices rose 6.1%, 3.2% in 1983, and (miracle of miracles) only 1.9% in 1986, a year before Volcker stepped down as Fed chairman and was replaced by Alan Greenspan.
To accomplish what was considered at the time improbable due to high inflation expectations, the Volcker-led Fed raised the Fed Funds Rate–the rate banks borrow from each other for overnight loans–to 22% by December 1980. The cost of Volcker’s tight monetary policies necessary to halt the dollar’s slide was back-to-back recessions: a short downturn 1980 and then another one, 1981-1982. A case can be made that one long recession occurred that in effect lasted three years, from January 1980 to November 1982.
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