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“The Fed’s apparent bias against letting spending and inflation drift higher,” they write, “makes it more likely that the next economic downturn will again be severe and the next recovery will again be sluggish.” Progressives such as J. Mason, who lament what they see as a lamentable tendency at the Fed to worry more about controlling inflation than maintaining a robust labor market, have made similar arguments.
The two groups have different desiderata, to be sure.
Were the Fed to set a nominal-spending target rather than an inflation target, it would be free to pursue a more expansionary policy when the time is right; right now, with spending growth well below its pre-crisis trend, seems like one of those times.
Many progressives who want an expansionary policy, on the other hand, are less interested in flexibility and more interested in permanently reorienting the Fed’s institutional priorities towards the interests of the working class.
As Saunders told me when I had the great honor of interviewing her in London, assisted suicide denies the intrinsic dignity of hospice patients. Too often, movement leaders — not wanting to be controversial — have gone “neutral” on legalization.
That is an abdication of duty and an abandonment of hospice patients and their families.
But lately, the connection appears to have loosened (some economists believe the labor market is not as tight as it seems): Unemployment is at record lows and wages are beginning to rise, but inflation remains below target.
The Federal Reserve should consider an expansionary monetary policy.
So say Ramesh Ponnuru and David Beckworth, who, in the current issue of National Review, argue that the Fed has kept money too tight throughout the economic expansion of the 2010s.
Fed governors skeptical of the Philips Curve might be more amenable to pursuing expansionary policy even if wages continue to rise.
These are encouraging signs to those who want an expansionary policy. Most FOMC members agreed that the Philips Curve is a useful concept; the talk about level targeting didn’t gain enough traction to inspire a change in policy; and the headline news from the meeting was that the Fed’s growing optimism about the economy could invite “further” interest-rate hikes.