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Will Yellen matter?

Posted By Russ Roberts On October 9, 2013 @ 9:11 pm In Crony Capitalism,Monetary Policy | Comments Disabled

Here is my (Russ’s) piece [1] on Janet Yellen. An excerpt:

Yellen, many believe, is the perfect choice, a first-rate academic whose sense of timing is exquisite and nuanced. Her transformations are perfectly timed. She criticized Greenspan for being too loose in the 1990s and now backs quantitative easing. She would never have used the “T” word, “tapering,” because unemployment remains unconcionably high. The implication is that she is wiser than both her predecessors. She is a dove when a dove is needed but easily turns into a hawk when inflation appears to actually be imminent. She is not too hot or too cold, but just right, the Goldilocks of Fed chairs.

This is how we like our heroes until we tear them down in disappointment. Finally, a savior! She won’t be flawed like those who came before her. She’ll be the One who can steer the economy, a steady hand on the tiller.

But there is no tiller. It’s a lousy metaphor. Being Fed chair is less like Odysseus steering between Scylla of inflation and the Charybdis of unemployment and more like the Wizard of Oz: grand pronouncements in a booming voice amplified by the media who love the theater of the wise man or woman who will find a way to get us home. We are not to pay attention to the real man or woman behind the curtain, the uncertain one who is whistling in the dark while purporting to find just the right calibration of the dials of monetary policy.

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[1] Here is my (Russ’s) piece: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/10/09/janet-yellen-won-t-change-the-fed.html

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