Last week, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke announced the central bank would begin another round of quantitative easing, the term of art for the Fed's policy of purchasing securities in an attempt to stimulate the economy. With his plan to buy $40 billion in securities per month, Bernanke has irked conservatives opposed to loose monetary policy, and some have described the policy as "unwise and unnecessary."
At Reason, Anthony Randazzo discusses why quantitative easing should have the Occupy Wall Street movement up in arms:
Last month, Bernanke said that quantitative easing had contributed to the rebound in stock prices over the past few years, and suggested this was a positive outcome. “This effect is potentially important, because stock values affect both consumption and investment decisions,” he argued, apparently under the belief that the Fed has a third mandate to support rising stock prices.
This is ironically a trickle down monetary policy theory, where rising stock prices mean more wealth and more consumption that trickles down the economic ladder. One problem with this idea is that there is a gigantic mountain of household debt—about $12 trillion worth—that is diverting away any trickle down. An even worse assumption is that the stock market really reflects what is going on in the real economy.
Where the Occupy movement should really be teed off is when you consider that most equity shares in America are owned by the wealthiest 10 percent. That is not inherently a problem—wealthier individuals with more disposable income will have more ability take ownership stakes in companies than those in lower income brackets. And it is not a call for class warfare. However, it does mean that when the Fed engages in quantitative easing it is providing a benefit to a very narrow segment of society at the expense of others (either through future inflation or through the cost of raising taxes to pay for increased federal debts). That is the definition of crony capitalism.
Read the whole thing here.