We know the headlines: Inflation is the highest in 40 years, climbing 7 percent last year. Stock prices and corporate debt have been running incredibly high. Unemployment, meanwhile, is incredibly low, while the U.S. economy grew 5.7 percent in 2021, its fastest full-year clip since 1984. The wealth gap, meanwhile, continues to spread.
To fight these realities – especially inflation – the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank will soon start unwinding their two most significant policies that drove extreme amounts of available money at rates that made that money virtually free to borrow since 2008 and the Great Recession and through the Covid pandemic: They will stop the extraordinary experiment of mass buying of U.S. Treasuries known as Quantitative Easing, and they will raise interest rates at least three – perhaps 4 or more times – this year.
The American easy money party is over, and it’s time to clean up any mess.
So how did this party get started? Why did it go on so long – long after the first signs of rising inflation arose last year? Who made the decisions and, perhaps more centrally, why is the U.S. central bank, comprised of unelected governors and bank presidents, so opaque? What happened behind closed doors?
Christopher Leonard has the inside story – and he tells it masterfully. His book The Lords of Easy Money: How the Federal Reserve Broke the American Economy, is a clear telling of Fed policy and the key personalities behind it: people like Jerome Powell, Ben Bernanke, Janet Yellen, and one you may never have heard of, Thomas Hoenig.
About Leonard: He is a business reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, and Bloomberg Businessweek. He is the New York Times bestselling author of The Meat Racket and Kochland.