Must-read: Paul Krugman sending us to Gavyn Davies, Lael Briainard from last October, and himself from a year ago

Must-Read: James Fallows will be upset as I buy into the myth of the boiling frog. The Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates last December was, it thought, a marginal move that was running a small risk. But as evidence has piled in suggesting that the risks on the downside are larger and larger, the Federal Reserve has done… nothing…

Paul Krugman orders and inspects the arguments:

Paul Krugman sends us to Gavyn Davies, Lael Briainard from last October, and himself from a year ago:

  • Gavyn Davies today: The Fed and the Dollar Shock: “The dismal performance of asset prices continued…. The weakening US economy. This weakness seems to be in direct conflict with the continued determination of the Federal Reserve to tighten monetary policy. Janet Yellen’s… attitude was deemed by investors to be complacent about US growth. (See Tim Duy’s excellent analysis of her remarks here.) Why is the Federal Reserve apparently reluctant to respond to the mounting recessionary and deflationary risks faced by the US? It is human nature that they are reluctant to admit that their decision to raise rates in December was a mistake. Furthermore, they believe that markets are often volatile, and the squall could yet blow over. But I suspect that something deeper is going on. The FOMC may be underestimating the need to offset the major dollar shock that is currently hitting the economy…”

  • Lael Brainard: Economic Outlook and Monetary Policy–October 12, 2015: “The risks to the near-term outlook for inflation appear to be tilted to the downside…. Over the past year, a feedback loop has transmitted market expectations of policy divergence between the United States and our major trade partners into financial tightening in the U.S. through exchange rate and financial market channels…. The downside risks make a strong case for continuing to carefully nurture the U.S. recovery–and argue against prematurely taking away the support that has been so critical to its vitality…. These risks matter more than usual because the ability to provide additional accommodation if downside risks materialize is, in practice, more constrained than the ability to remove accommodation more rapidly if upside risks materialize…”

  • Paul Krugman: The Dollar and the Recovery: “Consider two pure cases of rising US demand…. #1, everyone sees the relative strength of US spending as temporary…. In that case the dollar doesn’t move, and the bulk of the demand surge stays in the US…. #2, everyone sees the strength of US spending relative to the rest of the world as more or less permanent. In that case the dollar rises sharply, effectively sharing the rise in US demand more or less evenly around the world. It’s important to note, by the way, that this is not just ordinary leakage via the import content of spending; it works via financial markets and the dollar, and happens even if the direct leakage through imports is fairly small. So, what’s actually happening? The dollar is rising a lot, which suggests that markets regard the relative rise in US demand as a fairly long-term phenomenon…. The strong dollar probably is going to be a major drag on recovery.”


Brad DeLong


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