Tight Money, Lousy Economy

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Economist Scott Sumner is aghast at his profession:

If pressed, Keynesians will usually point to real interest rates as the right measure of monetary ease or tightness. By that criterion the Fed adopted an ultra-tight monetary policy in late 2008. Monetarists will usually say that M2 is the best criteria for the stance of monetary policy. By that criterion the ECB adopted an ultra-tight monetary policy in late 2008. And yet it’s difficult to find a single prominent macroeconomist (Keynesian or monetarist) who has publicly called either Fed or ECB policy ultra-tight in recent years. Maybe tight relative to what is needed, but not simply “tight.”

I’m calling out my profession. Do they really believe what they claim to believe about good and bad indicators of monetary tightness? Or in a crisis do they atavistically revert to the crudest measure of all, nominal rates.

Tight money and inadequate fiscal stimulus, two terrible tastes that taste even worse together. It’s almost as though we want our economy to suck for as long as it possibly can.

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Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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