Monday, August 11, 2008

Feldstein on Monetary Policy

Marty says:
The European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve are facing similar problems but pursuing different policies. The ECB has been raising interest rates while the Fed has been cutting them. The overnight federal funds rate is now 2 per cent while the corresponding ECB rate is 4.25 per cent. Which central bank is doing the right thing? Or could they both be?...

The power of Europe’s unions, its history of hyperinflation and the need to develop credibility for a young institution all justify the ECB’s tough stance. Because the Fed does not have these problems but faces a potentially serious recession, it is prepared to gamble that the weakness in US employment and the general decline in economic activity will prevent a wage-price spiral without further increases in the interest rate.... I think the Fed’s current interest rate strategy makes sense but would be too risky for the ECB.