“We shouldn’t be playing around with inflation. It’s not for nothing Reagan called it “as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber, and as deadly as a hit man.” The Fed’s pump priming addiction has got our small businesses running scared, and our allies worried. The German finance minister called the Fed’s proposals “clueless.” When Germany, a country that knows a thing or two about the dangers of inflation, warns us to think again, maybe it’s time for Chairman Bernanke to cease and desist. We don’t want temporary, artificial economic growth bought at the expense of permanently higher inflation which will erode the value of our incomes and our savings. We want a stable dollar combined with real economic reform. It’s the only way we can get our economy back on the right track.”

-Sarah Palin


The most popular piece on the WSJ.com is “Sarah Palin Takes Aim at Fed. ” Given the policy wonkiness of the former Alaskan governor (?!?), one can only wonder who her writers are.

The Journal mentions in passing that Karl Rove questioned her “gravitas.” While Rove seemed to be calling her an intellectual lightweight, the article doesn’t really really question the speech itself — or its reflection of Palin’s belief system.

Matt Phillips of the WSJ’s Marketbeat blog is having none of it, pointing out the 3 major premises of her speech are factually incorrect:

“First off, Reagan’s quote, delivered to a Republican fund raising event in October 1978 — according to the Columbia Book of Quotations — came as inflation was hovering around double-digits.We’ve got a very different situation now, the consumer price index for all items minus food and energy rose 0.8% over the year to September, the lowest 12-month increase since March 1961, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said.

Second, Germany did indeed have a nasty battle with hyper inflation about 90 years ago in the Weimar Republic. But what’s worrying Germany right now is not that their good friends in the U.S.A. will soon be selling bundles of greenbacks by weight, rather it’s that a cheaper dollar is a threat to their own all-important export sector. That’s a legitimate concern for them. But do you really take advice on business strategy from your competitor?

Third, permanently high inflation could indeed erode the value of savings and incomes. But deflation — which is the bigger worry and the reason why the Fed recently announced it is warming up the electronic printing presses — has costs too. It means debts get tougher and tougher to pay off. Last, keep in mind that inflation-scare mongerers have been wrong throughout the entire financial crisis.

Good stuff.

And over at Real Time Economics, another WSJ blog, Sudeep Reddy (author of the Palin piece in the WSJ) points out that Palin’s criticism of inflation is wrong — its been quite low this year at an average annual rate of 0.6%.

But why does it take a blog (or two) to call out the bullshit in her speech? Why doesn’t the Journal point out how “this is factually incorrect, this is wrong, and this is nonsense.?”

Therein lies the Future of media, in one delightful microcosm: The MSM tosses out thin gruel, while a blog — their own blog ! — debunks it a as empty headed nonsense.


Sarah Palin Takes Aim at Fed
WSJ, November 9, 2010

Sarah Palin: Monetary Policy Wonk
Matt Phillips
MarketBeat November 9, 2010

Sarah Palin’s QE2 Criticism Includes Inflation Hyperbole
Real Time Economics November 8, 2010,

Category: Markets

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

115 Responses to “Sarah Palin, Fed Historian ?”

  1. Mannwich says:

    LOL BR. With any “luck”, this person could be our next president. Strange times we live in.

  2. WFTA says:

    This is reality as defined by Roger Ailes. And last Tuesday proved how well it works.

  3. tt says:

    why blast her if she is telling the truth.

    i dislike her dumbing down persona, but if someone puts her signature to a truthful statement about the evil of money printing why blast her.

    i have found most professional wall st types have no clue about money and history of fed operations.

    whoever confronts the fed, will be the next president. obama,palin, huckabee or andrew jackson reincarnate.


    BR: Problem is, as Marketbeat pointed out — she was wildly wrong.

  4. Jojo says:

    I think the problem is that the MSM tries to follow the old school rules and maintain a separation between “reporting” and “opinion”. Bloggers don’t have this restriction, which makes them more attractive to many people these days.

  5. Invictus says:

    Sarah Palin, yesterday: “All this pump priming will come at a serious price. And I mean that literally: everyone who ever goes out shopping for groceries knows that prices have risen significantly over the past year or so. Pump priming would push them even higher. And it’s not just groceries.”

    CPI, All Urban Consumers, Food At Home (i.e. groceries)


  6. carleric says:

    Anyone who thinks that we have or will have raging deflation is a certifiable moron….unless you discount food and energy, medicine, apparel and a few other things. Hedonics and substitution make a mockery of the CPI. They were designed to screw seniors out of COLAs. Whether right or wrong, this was the goal and it was achieved thanks to Boskin and Greenspan. Anybody who thinks we “suffer” 0.6% inflation is as clueless as Bernanke. Debasing the currency may make debts less onerous but as long as debts pile up faster than revenues (personal and governmental) what difference does it make? So Sarah mistates the situaiton? How rare is that for a politician anyway? Fed lovers have more to fear from Ron Paul than Sarah and I am on his side. Can we impeach the Chairman of the Fed?

  7. Mannwich says:

    If they stop the reflation efforts (or someone or something else stops it), we WILL have real deleveraging, which will result in real “raging” deflation (and then raging defaults), and lots of it. Not defending the Fed at all but just saying. It’s choose your poison time.

  8. TedDogRun says:

    I strongly refudiate (whoops, repudiate) your assertions. The current inflation rate (conveniently ex food and energy) is obviously not the point of the QE2 critics. Instead, the criticism is preemptive, and I assume that BR and everyone else agrees the appropriate preemptive action would have been appropriate for the prior bubbles.

    The Reagan quote and Germany’s warning are absolutely relevant for preemptive purposes. Finally, discounting the widespread costs of inflation to assert that inflation is preferable to deflation reflects a opinion preference, not an absolute fact. One’s preference is most likely dependent on their financial position. A good old middle class person who has most of their wealth invested in “safe” interest bearing securities does not favor having the real value of their hard earned savings devalued by inflation. However, John Paulson is perfectly positioned to benefit greatly from it.

    The fact that we have thus far escaped inflation is a result of continuing to import low priced goods and the pressure on wages resulting from high unemployment (and pressure on the job market even before the financial crisis – i.e. the growing gap between the rich and the middle class during Bush’s terms).

    I actually find Matt Phillips’ comments to be as shallow as what you characterize Palin’s comments as being.

  9. cyoder1 says:

    Barry I appreciate most of your viewpoints as you typically do a very good job of dissecting bad arguments and incorrect logic. But I must digress with you here. I certainly don’t agree with some of what she had to say but I don’t think you are being totally fair with her. Her speech, while not 100% on point in all areas, does raise a VERY valid point about the affects of monetary easing.

    It genuinely pisses me off when people look at the current economic landscape and project today’s picture into eternity. What happened in Europe was a very good reminder to us that things can change, literally overnight. Matt basically does this when he quibs “things are different now…cpi only rose .8% this year”. Really?

    I’m not saying she isn’t stupid…she says some pretty dumb stuff. But she doesn’t run our country, Bernanke does. Don’t discount her just because of your opinion about her IQ. At least she cares about fiscal matters…apparently no one else in Washington does…or ever has, even in the good times.

  10. Long term says:

    i think Palin makes a great emotional appeal to the body of voters that dislike inflation. she is not after the votes of intellectuals; that’s not enough votes to get elected and it would be a split vote to boot.

    i don’t think inflation or deflation would run rampant now in the natural economy which is why i think history will say it was a bad long term move to dump 600B into the system. his heart is beating again so let’s put him on the table and shock him?

  11. PeterR says:

    Jay Suss !!!

    BR headlines SP.

    This is a joke right?

    Buy gold!

    Sell equities!

  12. JET55118 says:

    I’m conservative, but if she runs in 2012 there is NO WAY IN HELL I am voting for her. If you think her economic data is flawed then don’t even look at her foreign policy.

  13. call me ahab says:

    wow- BR-

    your turning out to be a one trick pony w/ your housing call- which was a no-brainer (and yet your beloved Chairman- Ben [there is no housing bubble] Bernanke- couldn’t seem to figure it out)-

    and now- you want to refute what is happening in in front of your very eyes- commodity prices spiking up parabolically since the whiff of QE2-

    what does this mean?

    Oh that’s right- food and energy aren’t part of the CPI (and therefore inflation)- even though people have to buy it every single day SO THEY CAN LIVE.

    But I guess you just wave it off like your man Bernanke does-

    dude should be in leg irons as far as I’m concerned.

  14. Ahab

    Do explain how I am a one trick pony…

  15. But why does it take a blog (or two) to call out the bullshit in her speech? Why doesn’t the Journal point out how “this is factually incorrect, this is wrong, and this is nonsense.?”

    Because one of Murdoch’s other media properties employees her. That’s why. You should know that, BR!!

  16. Bob A says:

    Our own 21st century version of Madame Mao and the Cultural Revolution…
    we can only hope it ends much the same way hopefully skipping most of Cultural Revolution part

  17. MBD1120 says:

    “We don’t want temporary, artificial economic growth bought at the expense of permanently higher inflation”

    Hard to disagree with that statement, especially when Sack and Bernanke have explicitly stated that is their goal, i.e. keeping asset prices higher than they otherwise would be in order to create an imaginary wealth effect.

    Not to metnion the Core CPI number is completely out of touch with reality, as you have hammered on these very pages before BR.

  18. obsvr-1 says:

    off topic, but at the top post … and worth a watch

    Greenspan falls on the sword and if looks could kill Ben B would have committed murder on him.

    Alan Greenspan: The Banks Robbed You

  19. Ltdata says:

    I’m no Sarah fan, but
    With the economy so f*cked up I’m caring less and less about how it gets fixed than the fact that it gets fixed in a sustainable fashion.
    QE2 … must be like jump starting a car with 2 tanks of gas and a tractor battery.

    >>reduce QE and taxes, both.

  20. Ned Baker says:

    call me ahab, MBD1120: Why do you focus on Core CPI? All Items CPI is below 2008 levels.

    The coastal liberal elite mainstream media doesn’t have the spine to call a spade a spade. Headline: “Democrats say sky blue, Republicans say purple”

  21. Clay says:

    Some discussion/analysis and opinions expressed here at The Pragmatic Capitalist:





  22. And by coincidence, todays QOTD;

    “One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.”

    -Bertrand Russell

  23. MorticiaA says:

    Once again, she proves that she’s really, REALLY great at repeating stuff her “handlers” (I’m thinking Bill Kristol mostly) are telling her to say. At least her sentences are coherent with nouns ‘n verbs ‘n stuff… quite an improvement over her performances during the 2008 campaign.

  24. Patrick Neid says:

    While nothing to date has changed by steadfast position that all post bubbles scenarios end up in deflation it speaks nothing to the circuitous route we may take getting there. Putting aside any personal animus one feels towards Palin the boys at the WSJ blogs are pimping for the Fed on this one.

    I don’t know where you live but between the shrinking container sizes and outright price rises there are higher prices in the land as we speak. What’s causing it I’ll leave to the debate team. But what I definitely know is that unless the CRB index implodes real soon the further price shocks that are coming will border on social unrest. Anecdotal to be sure but buying two tires for the truck cost me $30 each above just six months ago.

    The Palin quote above could have easily been made by James Grant, Marc Faber and a countless host of others who feel the same way. It’s not a stretch to suggest that the economic community is divided with half supporting her statement.

  25. JustinTheSkeptic says:

    BR, Bertrand is one of my favorites…for what that is worth. “Why I Am Not a Christian,” sure has to make one think about their Sunday time. I will ask the question, what is the difference between a college educated liberal vs the uneducated hinterland school of hard knocks types? Don’t both seem to swallow the propaganda hook, line and sinker? Didn’t Twain put a price on the true education?

  26. JustinTheSkeptic says:

    As in: Mark Twain, “I will not let schooling get in the way of my education.”

  27. gman says:

    After all the hand wringing about govt spending and deficit spending this election cycle, withing a week of the election some republican was on cnbc this am pronoucing “WAR WITH IRAN INEVITABLE”!

    Palin in on board w/ that stupidity as well!

  28. franklin411 says:

    You fail to appreciate the brilliance of Rupert’s strategy, Barry.

    Scenario 1: WSJ runs the Palin piece
    Outcome: It captures 1 eyeball (a Palinista), generating ad revenue

    Scenario 2: WSJ runs the Palin piece + the Marketbeat piece
    Outcome: It captures 2 eyeballs: The Palinista + the Patriotic anti-Palinist

    Scenario 3: WSJ runs the Palin piece + the Marketbeat piece + the RT Economics piece
    Outcome: It captures 3 eyeballs: The Palinista + The Patriotic anti-Palinist + the Blog hound

    Does it harm our nation to run Palin’s nonsense? Absolutely. Does it generate 3x the revenue for Rupert? Absolutely.

  29. Thor says:

    I love how so many of the folks who point out the rising cost of food and energy in their arguments for inflation, but totally discount wages, real estate, commercial rents, etc. Can’t have it both ways guys.

  30. Darkness says:

    Oh that’s right- food and energy aren’t part of the CPI (and therefore inflation)- even though people have to buy it every single day SO THEY CAN LIVE.

    Okay, I’ll bite. Since they are inputs into everything else, as you insist so forcefully (caps lock stuck there?). If you include them again, don’t you count them twice? I’ll confess, CPI ain’t my thing, but systems are . . .

  31. JimRino says:

    Google developing a Price Index.
    Currently prices are tracking downward.


    So, you have another measure to check against the CPI, and it looks like the CPI may be correct.
    Secondly, the problem is Ms. Palin is Screaming Fire in a building where there is no fire. Don’t you think you could wait till inflation Is AT LEAST 4% before hitting the Palin PANIC button?

  32. SCTTD says:

    BR, I think you are reading facts not in evidence into this opinion from Palin.

    No where in the piece does she claim inflation is present, Germany may or may not have secondary motives and invoking Reagan is what a Republican wanna be something does.

    Instead she suggests what I would wholeheartedly agree with, be careful what you wish for, inflation is not your friend (unless you sit at the top of the asset pile).

    QE2 is a very regressive inflationary tax on the poorest of the poor. The bottom 20% of society, who had little ability to cause the troubles we face, pay upwards of 60% of the income on food and energy. QE2 is CLEARLY flowing into food and energy costs.

    Palin’s motive is plain – get on record now as a champion of those who are about to be eviscerated by Fed policy. So rather than take her to task for facts she does not claim but fit with the mainstream views in support of Fed action, look at her political motives.

  33. m111ark says:

    Seriously BR, where are you sticking your head these days?

    COTTON up 124% YOY
    Gold up 27%
    SILVER up 56%
    Copper up 35%
    Wheat up 39%
    Soybeans up 39%
    Corn up 49%
    oats up 45%
    Sugar up 48%


    BR: Yes, and Equities up 82% from March to March.

    If you think that trading vehicles are a measure of inflation, then you best stick to law.

  34. Init4good says:

    I resent the current crop of Repubs pretending to act like Reagan – there is no real truth to the comparison. Also Palin is ridiculous – I cannot understand why anyone would hold her out as a candidate for anything – the woman is all ambition and little else.

  35. call me ahab says:


    please re-read this observation from your man Matt Philips:

    We’ve got a very different situation now, the consumer price index for all items minus food and energy rose 0.8% over the year to September, the lowest 12-month increase since March 1961

    we should be able to agree that “trying” to avoid high inflation (the Germany reference cited below) is not the same as saying “there is” high inflation- right?

    Germany reference:

    “The German finance minister called the Fed’s proposals “clueless.” When Germany, a country that knows a thing or two about the dangers of inflation, warns us to think again, maybe it’s time for Chairman Bernanke to cease and desist.”

    but currently- we have Fed engineered commodity spikes (but increases in food and energy are not included in Philips statistic- laughable)- so Philips is being disengenuous- looking at past data to support forward looking possibilities- disregarding current reality and also saying that warning of inflation (which many economists have done) is the same as saying there is inflation-

    how come you didn’t pick up on that but yet you chastise the WSJ with this: Why doesn’t the Journal point out how “this is factually incorrect, this is wrong, and this is nonsense.?”

    sadly- you saw the housing bubble for what it was- a fraudulent bubble that would burst- but apparently you have had the blinders on ever since

  36. Jojo says:

    Palin as president would be a better puppet than Bush was or Obama is for the puppet masters pulling all the strings behind the scenes.

  37. BuffaloBill says:

    I liked being directed to Jeremy Grantham’s reasoning about QE-II far better than reading Palin, Phillips or Sudeep Reddy. Did I just type Palin? WTF?

  38. jcmcn5 says:

    “But why does it take a blog (or two) to call out the bullshit in her speech? Why doesn’t the Journal point out how “this is factually incorrect, this is wrong, and this is nonsense.?””

    For the same reason that the NY Times never calls BO, Nancy Pelosi, Frank, Reid et al on all the bullshit that comes out of their mouths.

  39. VennData says:

    How’s that gravitas thingee going for ya’ Sarah?

    Her strength in the GOP is all you need to know about the GOP. …and her Senate Favorite, Jim DeMint’s detailed cost cutting proposals for the deficit…


    …such gravitas from the GOP.

    Still waiting for the GOP plan to cut the deficit to zero without raising taxes.

  40. mad97123 says:

    BR, your ‘ inflation good’ / ‘deflation bad’ bias really shows. If you are not in debt, or you are a holder of the debt, then deflation is a wonderful thing.

    The debt junkies will always want their inflation fixes, but that does not make inflation good or less harmful than deflation.

  41. I have no preference (and little debt). I calls them as I sees them, and right now, I don’t see much inflation. As opposed to the 2000s, when I did see lots of inflation, and no one else did.

    And as a reminder, I am the jackass that coined the phrase “Inflation, ex-inflation” — referring to the stupidity of pulling out food and energy from the CPI

  42. call me ahab says:

    just to be clear- Palin could spontaneously combust as far as I give a shit-

    my only point is BR’s disregard of the consequences of the Fed’s actions that are happening as we speak (since he seems to agree with Max Phillip’s meaningless data point)

    surging commodity prices are a Fed induced phenomena that Bernanke has very recently waved off as irrelevant-

    I find it relevant- because it affects the things we buy each and every day

  43. Ahab,

    If you are looking for reflexive Fed criticism, that is not my wheel house. It ain’t job to be an amateur policy wonk (and I doubt its yours either).

    My job is to look at the various inputs into the market, and inform investors as to the most advantageous positioning for their portfolios. I occasionally share those thoughts here.

    Again, its not my responsibility to oversee the Fed, I don’t have the expertise, and I don’t have the interest. I do have the ability to figure out, since a few months ago, what a half a trillion dollars means to the markets. It ain’t gonna last fore ever (there are already technical signs of weakening firming)

    I translate much of the arm chair criticism of the Fed to mean “Damn! I missed another big equity move.” Not all of it, but an awful lot.

  44. RW says:

    Easy rules when reading/listening to Palin:
    1. regardless of what she says she always gets her facts wrong
    2. whenever in doubt refer to rule #1

    As far as meme that there is clear inflation in the price of food I have no idea where that is coming from — well actually I do but never mind — but it’s wrong anyway as Invictus illustrates. Food prices trended modestly above core for the past decade but are lower now than they were two years ago (it’s a rather volatile series which is why it is avoided when researching underlying trends).

    As to Germany’s complaint, what Matt Phillips said: What do you expect a competitor to say? If this kind of emotion-laden panic keeps up the mob will doubtless be howling we should follow the advice of China within a matter of weeks.

  45. VennData says:

    Do Wall Street Journal Reporters Read the Wall Street Journal?

    “…Now I realize I’m just a former governor and current housewife from Alaska, but even humble folks like me can read the newspaper. I’m surprised a prestigious reporter for the Wall Street Journal doesn’t…”


    GOP hero Sarah Palin takes on the MSM Wall Street Journal as too moderate for her.

    …does Sarah Palin think there aren’t enough housewives at the Fed?

  46. Mannwich says:

    @mad97123: It does when most of said nation is full of debt junkies. Look, I don’t like what the Fed is doing either on many levels, but they obviously believe the lesser of two evils is deflation. Why is that? Well, look at our debt levels. It’s hard to monetize, I mean, service, that debt without said reflation efforts. They obviously believe it’s the least bad of the two choices. I have no idea if they’ll be right and I’m guessing the mother of all laws of unintended consequences is going to somehow apply at some point along the way during the Fed’s reflation efforts. I have just have no idea what yet, probably something to do with some geopolitical conflict.

  47. Mannwich says:

    I mean, the Fed believes the lesser of two evils (by far) is INFLATION. Good grief. “Sarah” has got me all confused.

  48. NormanB says:

    I can’t say why the media doesn’t call out Palin for her nonsense but when the Dems were telling us that the health bill was going to get us more health care for less money and Barbara Boxer was saying its a win-win-win I was wondering the same thing.

  49. Mannwich says:

    @NormanB: I don’t know what media outlets you follow, but the ones I did called the Dems out all the time for shit on the health care bill.

  50. RW says:

    Crikey! Mannwich is right, it’s like a fog: I meant to say above that “[f]ood prices trended modestly above core for” some decades.

    New Palin rule:
    3. for god’s sake don’t try to figure out what she actually said!

  51. call me ahab says:

    . . . for you non-believers- what did gasoline prices do when oil went to $150 barrel? Currently- look at any commodity you want- surging since QE 2 was discussed in August in Jackson Hole- do you think it’s possible that this affects prices for energy and food?

    Food Sellers Grit Teeth, Raise Prices

  52. From the article you linked to *(but apparently did not read)

    Food Sellers Grit Teeth, Raise Prices:

    Food prices are rising faster than overall inflation. The consumer price index for all items minus food and energy rose 0.8% over the year to September, the lowest 12-month increase since March 1961, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. The food index rose 1.4%, however. The U.S. Agricultural Department is predicting overall food inflation of about 2% to 3% next year.

    The current pressure is nothing like it was in October 2008, when food prices were rising at an annual rate of 6.3% and some hard lessons were learned when producers passed along those costs: Shoppers switched to private-label products.

  53. Joe Friday says:

    The woman is a blithering idiot.

    And to paraphrase her pitbull joke:

    What’s the difference between Dan Quayle and Sarah Palin ?


  54. Bill W says:

    I’m no fan of Sara Palin, but she did make one intelligent point in the article. “We don’t want temporary, artificial economic growth…” Of course I’m cherry picking that sentence, and I’d argue that the FED creates temporary prosperity by creating asset bubbles, not inflation. But…

    If the basic premise of her argument is that it is unwise to choose short term prosperity over the pain of necessary restructuring, than that is most intelligent thing that Ive heard from a politician of either party, probably ever.

    I don’t mind seeing the Wall Street Journal picking apart the idiotic economic theories of idiotic politicians. But, where was the Wall Street Journal when John Boehner was on This Week telling us that a bank bailout was necessary even though he couldn’t possible tell us why? Have they focused on the economic ship of fools that Obama has chosen as his “handlers.”

  55. Andy T says:

    What’s interesting is that 62% of the pundits/”smart people” on CNBC spout the same kind of stuff as Palin is repeating here in regard to inflation.

    Why not take them down, too?

    She’s clearly trying to take up the Ron Paul/Libertarian mantle of bashing the Fed, which I whole-heartedly endorse. Unfortunately, she’s no Ron Paul…. Fortunately, his son sounds just like him without the whiny/professorial diction.

    She’s trying to keep hold of her position as the “leader” of the Tea Party/Libertarian strain of politics, but I don’t think it’s going to work.

  56. Captain Jack says:

    Not to defend Caribou Barbie, but this feels like a cheap shot at an easy target.

    It is hard to imagine Palin having coherent thoughts on much of anything, let alone monetary policy. She is being hammered because the very idea feels incongruous, like the cast of Jersey Shore debating the roots of Pointillism in 19th century art.

    As for what she actually SAID, though — which, come on, was handed to her and read like a script — is it really all that worthy of snark? Paul Krugman commits greater howlers to print virtually every time he pens a column, and the man has a nobel prize.

    Technical merits of the Palin statement aside, this reminds me of the cool kids on the school bus, making fun of the special ed student who tries to hang with them.

  57. ZenRazor says:

    Palin is a festering pus sack of dogma, ignorance and paranoia. My first reaction is to always assume that anything that dribbles from her lips is incorrect. That said, I do at least agree with the sentiment expressed by whomever wrote this for her. Over the last 80 years, mild deflation has produced a moderately good economic environment and has been the best condition for equity market investors. Moderate inflation has also been fine, but real returns are put at serious risk fairly quickly when prices get revved up. Bernanke seems at least a tad bit dogmatic and paranoid in his willingness to invite the potential for significantly higher inflation with this policy experiment. Nobody wants to see a sequel of Japanese disease, but that risk seems less probable than creating inflation expectations that could make our Treasury debt much more expensive to service.

  58. mad97123 says:

    BR, if you have no preference for inflation vs deflation, then why did you agree with the comment which says deflation is the bigger worry?

    “Third, permanently high inflation could indeed erode the value of savings and incomes. But deflation — which IS THE BIGGER WORRY and the reason why the Fed recently announced it is warming up the electronic printing presses — has costs too. It means debts get tougher and tougher to pay off. Last, keep in mind that inflation-scare mongerers have been wrong throughout the entire financial crisis.“

    Worry for who? The debt junkies! We’re going to print our way to wealth / health? Makes no sense, whether we see inflation this minute or not, there simply is no free lunch.

  59. call me ahab says:


    you kill me dude-

    my point that the Fed induces a surge in commodity prices that increases everyone’s food and energy costs-

    remains unchallenged-

    the Fed- a friend or foe?

  60. TedDogRun says:

    I remain baffled by the focus on the current inflation rate. The debate should regard the future inflation rate. The question simply is: Can the Fed inject $600B and back away in time to avoid excessive rates of inflation from taking hold? I’m surprised that many are talking around this important question by arguing that we shouldn’t fear future inflation because there is minimal current inflation.

  61. call me ahab says:

    . . .also- BR brings up this:

    “and some hard lessons were learned when producers passed along those costs: Shoppers switched to private-label products.”

    as if the private label brands didn’t go up in price- they were just lower than the prices people were willing to spend on the name brands-

    a Greenspan convert on substitution? Can’t afford pork chops- so switch to scrapple?

    seems the same to me

  62. Mannwich says:

    @Captain Jack: Except that Palin IS one of the “cool kids”, the “in crowd”, if you will.

  63. RW says:

    TedDogRun: Ignore the increasingly irrelevant MSM, general hysteria and (god help us) op-ed commentary from know-nothings; the solution to your bafflement is that the world market is actually assuming the $600b will not even need to be backed away from because it would take twice that amount to make a significant difference in real (as opposed to faux) inflation expectations.

    Shorter version: Whether or not we should fear future inflation at this juncture is not an “important question,” it is a red herring.

  64. mad97123 says:

    Mannwich, I understand we are nation up to our eyeballs in debt,
    so inflating it away sounds great. It’s simply morally incorrect. But hey, do you want to make money or be right!

  65. RW says:

    @Mannwich via Captain Jack: Exactly so. One of the comments I remember from Alaska when Palin became a running mate for McCain was that of an older school teacher from Wasilla who said (paraphrased from memory), Sarah Barracuda [Palin's nickname] was like some of the popular girls you can find in middle school: Mean and vindictive; anyone wanting to be part of their ‘crowd’ could pay a heavy price.

    Sarah Palin was never one of the ‘excluded’ she was always one of the ‘excludee’s’

  66. RW says:

    Damn, the fog still won’t lift! Meant to say Palin was always one of the ‘excludors’


  67. Adult Franklin411 says:

    I’d do her.

  68. ronin says:

    “minus food and energy”

    Gee, I’ll bet a high school drop out can see this is just more neo-liberal/neo-conservative drivel! The two most important issues facing the Upper, Middle, and Lower classes and we are told to ignore them. This makes a lot of sense too with 20% real unemployment.

    The Elite media will stop at nothing to stand on the neck of any populous candidate until they are certain those candidates are just sheeps in wolf’s clothing.

    Don’t worry though, just like Obama, Palin will show her true colors just to get into office and all this populous drivel will be put to rest….

  69. willid3 says:

    i remember that when they talked about $150 oil that gas was suppose to be over $5. but that $150 oil was the spot market. and almost every one who ‘invested’ in it, got killed as it never sold for that when it came into the market. it was just a sham way to gather in the ‘investors’ (aka marks).

  70. beaufou says:

    I don’t want to talk about Palin.

    Inflation scares me, not because of Weimar, another time another place, but because of people, unemployed, underpaid and a majority with no savings.
    The inflation scare mongerer link is about investors. Excuse my French, but can we leave those F-ing investors at the back of the room for an instant and think about reality.
    If it wasn’t for the almighty “investor” all the time, maybe we would have some industry left; not just bent on restructuring and thinking about cutting cost.
    Moving the workforce to China wasn’t about quality and products, it was about corporate profits and dividends, QE2 is about socializing the Dollar downfall to subsidize the return of those jobs, in vain.
    And Germany is giving twisted advice, how long do you think this printing to no end with the world reserve currency is going to last?

  71. Mannwich says:

    @mad: I never said “inflating it away” “sounds great”. I just said the Fed obviously believes it sounds less bad than the other option. Who knows if they are right? It seems that we’ll likely find out.

    Thinking back the origination of these bailouts and Ben’s prior comments, does any of their actions really seem all that surprising? I mean, they basically telegraphed from day 1 of the bailouts which wagon they’ve hitched to and there’s no turning back now. They’re never going to be able to step away from all the tinkering and asset reflation efforts, until they are forced to do so by some exogenous event or events.

  72. louiswi says:

    Maybe I missed it in the 70 plus responses but I didn’t see a mention of Sarah “QUITTER” Palin. that is of course her real name. Consider if she and McCain had won she would be quitting about now. Too boring or too hard a job. How she gets any press escapes me until I realize she is a lacky of Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes. That’s all one really needs to know. I for one has dumped my cable provider for carrying Fox, cancelled my WSJ and Barron’s subscriptions. There is more than one way to vote.

  73. NormanB says:

    Is this The Big Picture blog with the big time investment advisor making actual decisions and treating issues seriously (if he’s wrong, ugh) or is it the Mannwich Blog? Seems like Mannwich is all over the Comments page. Personally, it gets in my way of thinking seriously.

  74. Dennis the menace says:

    Its amazing that the Fed haters are willing to listen to this emptyheaded bimbo reading a teleprompter about shit sher obviously does not undertand.

    If Bill Clinton did the same thing, you jackals would be all over him for “triangulation” and “sniffing the wind, following polls.” Yet most of you refuse to criticize this half wit who is doing the exact same thing: Following,not leading.

    Politics does make for strange bedfellows.

  75. DL says:

    I think that all of this QE will increase Obama’s chances of re-election (or at the very least, minimize his margin of defeat in 2012).

    However, I do expect to see some pretty hefty increases in food and energy prices over the next 3-5 years.

    (Although the bullsh*t numbers put out by the government with respect to CPI might not appear to be so bad).

  76. jad714 says:

    DL, Obama’s chances of re-election are zero. He’s upset too many people with his antics and aside from that, has done nothing.


  77. Fascinating cross section of replies, you can tell by some of the emotional responses that its a definite hot button issue. Which makes it perfect fodder for politicians.

  78. ronin says:

    Here are some examples of what inflation has brought us since the creation of the Fed and their fractional reserve banking–let’s hope the next 100 years of inflation are a little more gentle to our culture and environment. (LOL! Who am I kidding? 100 more years of this crap and we’ll all be dead!)





  79. Bob A says:

    an uncanny resemblance ;)
    Madame Mao: the white boned demon

  80. Ducky62 says:

    Say what you will about the former Alaska governor. She is demonstrably much smarter than the current occupant of the White House.

    everyone who ever goes out shopping for groceries knows that prices have risen significantly over the past year or so.

    re: Invictus’ chart. If you take “or so” to refer to the past four years food prices are increasing rapidly compared to the previous six. Anecdotally, it seems like every time I go grocery shopping prices are higher.
    Perhaps I should do this “hedonic substitution” or whatever the BLS calls it. “Hamburger is $3.50 a lb.? I’ll take a family pack of soylent green “.

  81. constantnormal says:

    This “discussion” clearly split at the outset into two camps, those who believe one way about current inflation, and those who believe the other way. No amount of argument will persuade either side, as they entered the discussion with their minds made up.

    I offer up the following not as an attempt to persuade anyone, only as some data that is not distorted by artificial indices. I track the money we spend — I believe that if one does not track where one spends money, you end up with uncontrolled spending. So I actually HAVE data, real data, regarding food expenditures going back quite a ways. Here is a chart showing our monthly food expenditures from 2005-01 through 2010-10:


    While I see the same reported increases in raw commodities that everyone else does, I can assure you that it is not making its way into the prices paid by the consumer. Whether this is due to merely a delay in the signal propagation up through the product chain, or due to increased efficiencies (fewer people) absorbing the cost increases, I cannot say, but I can assure you the THERE IS NO INFLATION IN FOOD out here in the real world. I see anecdotal evidence weekly of decreasing prices in the grocery store, but that is only anecdotal evidence. Our eating habits have not changed over the past 5 years, and as you can see from the chart, THERE IS NO TREND TOWARD INCREASED FOOD EXPENDITURES.

    If you want utility prices, I can show you those as well, or gasoline or anything else I spend money on, but I can assure you, THERE IS NO INFLATION impinging upon this consumer. If anything, there is a mild deflation. If you have different data that you know to be correct, please offer it up.
    In the interim, I have data, while you have only opinions.

    Lord, what fools these mortals be.

  82. ywsimw says:


    I love your blog, really do. But I think you are being too severe here…

    1. If Palin quotes Roosevelt on the ugliness of a World War, are you going to dismiss her by saying we are at peace ?

    Especially true if the “war/peace status” is measured the same way CPI is measuring the cost of living (“hey, a bomb here or there ain’t so bad”).

    2. About Germany, if your competitor warns you of a danger in your activity (say, that they equity brokerage/asset management/wathever-it-is-you-do might die altogether), are you going to dismiss his call just because he is a competitor ?

    Sure, Germany are worried about their exports, but if it were their only concern, they’d support the debasement of the EUR ; just to stay even. They don’t do that. I think they are genuinely frightened by something else here.

    3. High inflation is not happening. True. Does that mean the Fed’s actions can no longer be debated ? Maybe 10 years from now, we will be able to say that the Fed cleaned its own mess properly, but it’s too soon. Would you say that worries that QE2 might be too inflationary down the road are ridiculous just because CPI is currently low ?

  83. DL says:

    jad714 @ 11:30

    I actually think that Obama could get re-elected if he really wanted to.

    But I think he’d rather go down in flames in the pursuit of his ideology.

  84. beaufou says:

    Would you mind giving us details about your great NO INFLATION CHART please, I mean this could be a fish bones waste for all we know.
    And sorry, you are full of shit, I work in the food industry and I see increases every week, so go sell your bullshit some other place would you.

  85. LoriInNC says:

    Commodities prices rising… Gee, who needs food and energy? Just tell me where I can buy my next iPad.

  86. Captain Jack says:

    For constantnormal (as my direct reply appears to have been spam blocked):


    Also, a tongue in cheek offering for non-tea party fans:


  87. Horatio Clawhammer says:

    Normal account seems to be spam-trapped, using an alternative.

    For constantnormal:


  88. PhilM says:

    Dear BR and Commentators,

    Usually I fully agree with BR’s assessment of the situation and usually Sarah Palin is in no way representing anything close to a valid idea. Yet, this time she is perfectly right and the arguments “demonstrating her logic’s flaws’ are to be condemned.

    1) Current inflation rate is extremely low (below 1%)

    a) current state does not mean that this can be extrapolated. In 2006, when we were all awaiting a downturn in house prices – well informed by calculatedrisk, BR and others, the guys at NAR still cheerleaded the last spike in prices (despite many indicators pointing down)

    b) The monetary base is at extremely high levels compared to M2. We might argue that this is a new equilibrium, but it also might change rather quickly. Other research indicates that the ‘velocity of money’ is at historic lows – again the question: is this time different, or will we return to more normal levels.

    c) The method of calculation of inflation rates in America has significant shortcomings as shown by many experts. Alone the adjustment for technological progress has an impact on the rate. A look at the oil price (one major ingredient of most industrial products) is a more appropriate measure of inflation – and indicates extremely high inflation. We see the same in copper, wheat, food products… There might be inflation everywhere except in the government’s inflation data.

    2) Germany suggests US to have a strong USD in order to have a competitive advantage

    a) Since I am originally from Germany, I might be biased on this item. However: The German industrial-export machine has been build up during many decades. In these decades the USD constantly lost value against the ever stronger DMark. So Germany has perfectly demonstrated the ability to become an economic powerhouse despite having a strong currency.

    b) Germany has indeed a history of strong inflation and Germans are well aware of this dark part of history (followed by even darker episodes…). And indeed Germany needs a strong USDollar. This dollar however does not have a major direct impact on Germany’s exports (which US supplier can compete with German machineries and top cars?) but a strong USD might help increase the Yen, Won and Yuan which might be more important for Germany’s competitiveness. Yet, long term, you need to have a well trained labor pool and a complete supply chain to remain competitive. The labor pool in Germany shrinks and a brain-drain has set in: Towards the US, Switzerland, Scandinavia, East Asia.

    c) Unlike the statement, that Germans would love to have a strong Dollar (and implied weak Euro) – Germans are the strongest proponents of a strong Euro within the currency union. A weak Euro policy is proposed by Greece, France and other southern countries, whereas Holland and Finnland (both major exporters) are at least partly supporting a stronger Euro.

    d) Germany relies on the globalized economy and economic ties. Currently, English as the world’s language and the USD as the world’s currency + relatively cheap energy (well, there was a lot of inflation there…) are the basis for the world’s integrated economy. Cross-border transactions are accounted for in USDollars. If trust in the USD decreases, globalization might experience a serious set-back – which will definitely hurt highly integrated economies (like the German economy).

    3) Deflation vs. Inflation

    a) Yes, deflation can have devastating impacts on the economy, but the deflation is likely in a society/economy that is most heavily indebted. The overall debt level highlights the deflation risk and this level was caused by the FED’s policies (ultra low rates 2003-2005).

    b) as one commentator has outlined, whether deflation or inflation is worse depends on the degree of deflation/inflation and the personal situation.

    So this time, for the sake of a rational discussion I have to disagree with Matt Phil’s assessment of the situation. Sarah Palin’s reasoning in this particular case is correct! BR, I hope you can include some arguments (in support of SP’s comment) on your blog – to get a bigger picture.

  89. m111ark says:


    I see… been at that government crack pipe again, he.

    Perhaps you have the servants out buying your groceries and your accountants paying your bills… while you’re out in the Hampton’s hob-nobbing with the people who really matter.

    I read your blog to see how wall street types think; glad to see you rarely disappoint. Actually, I’m not…. take a look at John Williams shadowstats website. All the things one needs to live – up, things one doesn’t – down. QE2, QE3, etc., etc., etc. life gettin’ more expensive – money gettin’ cheaper. While rising prices are but inflation’s tracks, it is what real people have to deal with every day… while wall street types get billion dollar bonuses made up from the people’s money.

    PS not a lawyer (I work for one) former republican, still a fiscal conservative and saddened and troubled by what we’ve become

  90. Expat says:

    “deflation — which is the bigger worry”…why do we keep hearing such crap. Price deflation is not economically wrong, at least from a theoretical point of view. In fact, it is perfectly normal and deisrable. The problem is that our entire economy is run on debt, which basically tells us that our entire economy is a sham.

    I have no debt and have not had debt since I paid off my student loans many, many years ago. Granted, I earned a lot of money over the years, but I also never went out and bought something I could not afford like a jet or a yacht.

    And, PhilM, there is no way in Hell Sarah Palin is right or wrong…because there is no way she wrote that.

  91. Darkness says:

    Captain Jack , It’s trivial to eliminate that pinch: cancel all ethanol subsidies and ethanol requirements. Speaking of boondoggles . . . when are the republicans, Palin included, going to man up and actually act like the capitalists they claim they are instead of market manipulating, CCCP style farmer coddlers?

    Ethanol is at best a wash at energy out to energy in while making everything, from catfish to chicken to nacho chips, ridiculously more expensive. That’s not inflation that’s stupid government intervention.

  92. [...] need to cite Germany’s opposition to the Federal Reserve Bank’s action (although she could’ve used a little fact-checking).  With G20 leaders set to meet, currency manipulation is a hot topic, however, the real [...]

  93. WFTA says:

    If we had a functioning, responsible government that would do, or better yet would have done, some serious spending on our crumbling infrastructure and maybe indulged the working class with some payroll tax holidays instead of making good on AIG’s credit default swaps, this nitwit’s take on quantitative easing would likely be moot. In fact she might never have heard about QE (because she sure as hell didn’t read about it.)

  94. Kort says:

    No fan of Palin and shudder to think she could be President, but I don’t get the vitriol aimed at her all of the time. She consistently gets dismissed by the likes of HuffPo etc and yet…she is consistently on their front page.

    She’s a self made woman, who didn’t get to where she was because of rich parents or some great political “machine” in Alaska. She was mayor, and Governor (how many female govs have we had in this country?) (I admit that Alaska is basically one, big National Park) She’s athletic and active. She took on the Republican establishment in Alaska, and still is (Murkowski was handed the Senate seat by her Governor/Senator Father). She has an entire universe of media aligned against her, parsing every tweet and comment. She stumbles, she gets back up. She’s good at the Rope-A-Dope strategy and it’s laughable watching the “intellectuals” pound away and keep pounding at this supposed idiot–and yet, she’s there at the start of the next round time and time again. To paraphrase Obi Wan Kenobi (!), who’s the bigger Fool, the Fool, or the Fool who keeps attacking her?

    Mostly everything about her SHOULD be inspirational to people, especially women and young girls. But, she’s on the ‘wrong’ side on many social issues, so it’s just attack, attack, attack, dumb, dumb, dumb, attack, attack, attack.

    I’ll never vote for her, but I admire her effort.

  95. deanscamaro says:

    @Captain Jack:
    “Technical merits of the Palin statement aside, this reminds me of the cool kids on the school bus, making fun of the special ed student who tries to hang with them.”

    Keep in mind, the Republicans have 2 years to polish Palin up (they will have to use 65 grit sandpaper) to get ready for a run, so I would dispute your statement and take her out of the “special ed student” field, although she speaks/acts like one sometimes.

  96. jimc1004 says:

    Since all reactionary featherweights always get to play T-ball [the "Dan Quayle Rule" even before W's time], I will not demand that Ms Palin explain briefly – in her own words – what “her” article says, or expect her to answer questions in a real, actual news conference about the flaws mentioned above. I won’t even ask her to spell any of the economics terms used. I would like to hear her read this article aloud, though, and I would bet she could not finish it. Mis-Spokes-model-in-waiting!

    Even considering John Nance Garner’s opinion that the VP job wasn’t “worth a bucket of warm spit,” though he didn’t actually say “spit”, she was never close to being qualified. Ms Palin has already far exceeded the Peter Principle – by light years. Only anti-government extremist types who still believe W was our best-ever President could say, “President Palin” without laughing out loud.

  97. Captain Jack says:

    Darkness said: Captain Jack , It’s trivial to eliminate that pinch: cancel all ethanol subsidies and ethanol requirements.

    Yeah, but since when does eliminating a massive government subsidy / de facto pork program count as “trivial?”

    The Corn Mafia wouldn’t be too happy about that:


  98. Objectively, Palin is dead on in her observations. IMO, nothing she said is particularly alarming or nefariously stupid. There are a number of ways to measure inflation, of which the CPI is perhaps the worst. As many postings have observed, commodity prices are already beginning their inexorable climb that has accompanied each Federal Reserve loosening in the last decade (2003, 2008).

    But as I’m beginning to realize, the “wet-ware” we all possess (including most definitively, the wet-ware of the host) is programmed to see what it wishes. The impulse to “objectively” disagree with another’s observations is heavily influenced by the emotions we have towards the person, not least the person’s politics. Our political viewpoint is nothing if not emotionally-driven.

    But it was refreshing to read on the board what the host had failed to do–honest evaluations of Palin’s opinion that disregarded the feelings one had for the person making them. Love her or hate her, does what she said have the ring of truth? I doubt there are many would-be Palin supporters that read this blog, but she had a great many that supported her observations. It is encouraging for me to see so many that are capable of reasoning past their emotions.

  99. partimer1 says:

    Most people picking on her try to prove her wrong with some stupid numbers and figures saying there is no inflation in the past two years, therefore she is wrong on that. If the housing market is down 30% from the peak, what is that say about the housing market BEFORE crashing? was it not inflated? was there inflation BEFORE the market crashed? Obviously crash and crisis was the RESULT of the inflation which we don’t want to admit. what about oil at $150? Now, oil is at $87, and gold is 1400. what’s that say? I think people should stop fucking around with some stupid numbers and come into some common sense.