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How Greenspan & Bernanke Invalidated Friedman

Hedge fund manager Scott Frew is a friend and occasional fishing partner. He had a few words to say about this morning’s discussion re: Volcker and Bernanke:


I wanted to flesh out some of what Barry wrote earlier about former and current Fed Chairs Volcker and Bernanke. We must begin with Bernake’s now infamous Deflation speech. It is certainly “The Speech.”  And I think in many ways it’s a terrifying document.

I am, by the way, in total agreement that Greenspan’s the guy who’s responsible for all of this; the particularly insidious quality of bubbles is that once you’re in one, the future is more or less pre-ordained.

An ironic corollary of that thought is that it pretty much invalidates the entire, mainstream (most certainly including Bernanke and Greeenspan), Milton Friedman-inspired critique/view of the Great Depression as having resulted from bad monetary policy on the part of the Fed as the bubble burst. They needed, according to that critique, to be much looser than they were, and all the problems would have been avoided.

So, in a sense, Bernanke’s an acolyte of that same church (recall him saying to Friedman, at some dinner or something honoring him, Never again; i.e., as a result of the lessons learned, taught by Friedman, the central bank would never repeat those Depression errors,), can’t fall back himself on a “It’s Greenspan’s fault” defense, because that’s antithetical to their whole view of history.

I see The Speech itself as a terrifying document, although it’s also an
absolute blueprint for what’s going on today — you’ve got to give Ben
credit for foresight; he’s running down the checklist he provided there,
item by item, line by line. Too bad none of it’s working, at least to date, but
instead is exacerbating the problems.

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