Who would have expected extreme thinking from central bankers? That is the theme of some coverage in the financial press over the past few weeks. For example, the Financial Times takes note that “a growing chorus of economists is saying central banks should take more radical steps, including buying assets other than government bonds.”
Some, if not all, of these steps are not so radical from a broad historical perspective. Following the recent bankers’ brainstorming session in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke was said to be pondering various possibilities including (1) QE (quantitative easing) 3, (2) a lowering of the interest rate paid on banks’ reserve accounts at the Fed, (3) an extension until 2015 of the Fed’s low-interest-rate precommitment, and perhaps in the longer term, (4) adopting nominal GDP targeting, as endorsed, for example, by George Soros in a recent opinion piece on the eurozone and Germany in particular.
Today, the Fed announced that it would adopt options (1) and (3), purchasing $40 billion in mortgage-backed debt each month for an indefinite period and predicting that the federal funds rate would remain near zero through mid-2015 (news article).Multiplier Effect
Again, Unconventional Win Out