After months of blasting the Federal Reserve and their leadership, President Donald Trump may finally get what he’s been calling for — the removal of Fed Chair Janet Yellen. According to Trump, the failed monetary policy promoted by Yellen has created an “artificial economy,” one that hurts everyday Americans while benefitting the coffers of the elite.
Certainly, quantitative easing — the much-derided monetary stimulus program — gave plenty of fodder for critics of the Federal Reserve. Rather than forwarding real solutions, the answer to the Great Recession by then-Chair Ben Bernanke was liquidity. In his world view, he would open the floodgates with fiat currencies until deflationary pressures received their own shock-and-awe treatment.
Janet Yellen continued this monetary policy of quantitative easing during the final years of the Obama administration until economic barometers suggested improving conditions. Only recently has Janet Yellen switched over to her hawkish hat by raising key interest rates. Instead of stimulus through quantitative easing, the game plan for the Federal Reserve is to ensure that this present rally in the labor and equity markets is sustainable.
That may not be enough to save her job with the new boss in town. The contractual terms for Janet Yellen and Vice Chair Stanley Fischer will expire in early 2018. If the Trump campaign rhetoric is any guide, chances are that Yellen won’t be around to complete her change of heart.
On an emotional level, this is fantastic news for Trump supporters and fiscal conservatives. The “fake economy” has been a battle-cry among right-leaning voters, the classic conflict between the working class and the aristocratic elite. But on a rational level, the possible — or likely probable — ouster of Janet Yellen is the worst thing that could happen.
We have to accept the fact that quantitative easing happened, whether we like it or not. In a way, because of this experimental monetary policy, the Federal Reserve made themselves indispensible. They created the mess with quantitative easing: only they would know how to undo it.
It’s safe to say that most people are in agreement that quantitative easing must be unwound. The real question is how to go about it. Janet Yellen and the Federal Reserve have their plan. President Trump, in contrast, has his ideas. And based on his previous words and actions, he may just want to go in there himself and whip everything into shape.
Unfortunately, monetary policy is not something that can be magically cured with an executive order. Quantitative easing is a serious, convoluted mess. It would take a policy wonk like Janet Yellen just to make sense of the problem, let alone propose a viable solution.
Rather than make a snap decision, the President should be advised to seriously ponder the potential leadership change at the Federal Reserve. Our economy is depending on it.