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The Economy May Be Finally Peaking, and the Fed Won’t Help Matters

Here we go again it may seem to many. The Fed is preparing us for a policy tightening just when a powerful growth cycle upturn is faltering. Or is it in fact an example of another well-known type of error from Fed history—getting behind the curve of rising inflation? The most plausible answer is that it is neither.

Instead, the huge monetary inflation shock which the Fed has administered so far in this pandemic means that the “normalization steps” now in prospect for 2022 are all but irrelevant to macroeconomic prospects or asset market price trajectories.

The more Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell has been huffing and puffing, since his renomination (November 22), about normalizing policy, the steeper has been the fall in long-term interest rates. In the first two trading weeks following the renomination, the ten-year yield on US Treasurys was down by thirty basis points to 1.35 percent. A coincidence, surely, explained in part by the possible Omicron menace? Yes, perhaps in part, but not altogether.

The chief’s performance is now in the theater of the absurd. Many in the marketplace have deserted the audience, though the noise still irritates them. Instead, they focus on the drama of monetary reality. The title? “Lost Illusions on the Journey from Mega Pandemic Inflation to Great Depression.” The evolving mood of the audience here will have a powerful effect on financial markets and ultimately the global economy.

Toward understanding the theater of the absurd and its triviality, recall the story of the natural history museum renowned for its dinosaur relics. The guardian there, quizzed by a child as to the age of those specimens, answers: 5 million years and 90 days. How so? Because when he started work there, around three months ago, he was told their age was 5 million years!

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