From But Then What: (excerpts, emp add)
Is The Fed’s Independence At Risk?
Yesterday, Richard Fisher, President of the Dallas Fed, raised the issue of independence and had this to say about buying treasuries:
The Federal Reserve must, of course, be very careful to avoid the perception that it is monetizing the explosion of fiscal deficits, as this would undermine confidence in our independence and raise serious doubts about our long-term commitment to price stability.Bernanke’s Fed has probably gone beyond the point at which it could have held up its hands and reminded everyone that in the end they don’t answer to Congress or the administration. The moment he appeared at Paulson’s side pleading with Congress for the original TARP money, the die was cast. To be fair, he probably didn’t have much choice and I am willing to assume that the situation was dire enough to warrant the departure from custom.
The problem is that each time the Fed appears to be functioning as an arm of the Treasury, it loses more of its aura. Judging by commentary I read and hear, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that if called upon to use its balance sheet for whatever reason that it will stand up and salute.
along those lines: (emp add)
WASHINGTON — The White House plan to rescue the nation’s financial system, announced on Tuesday by Timothy F. Geithner, the Treasury secretary, is far bigger than anyone predicted and envisions a far greater government role in markets and banks than at any time since the 1930s.
Administration officials committed to flood the financial system with as much as $2.5 trillion — $350 billion of that coming from the bailout fund and the rest from private investors and the Federal Reserve, making use of its ability to print money.