Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bernanke: Inflation? Don't Look at Me!

Sometimes Blodget and Trask get it right. In this TechTicker discussion of Bernanke's remarks about what is causing the noticeably higher global commodity prices, they get it way more right than wrong.

As Trask writes in an accompanying article:
But Bernanke's refusal to acknowledge the Fed's role in rising commodity prices is, at best, another blow to his credibility, as was his attempt to take credit for the stock market rally while simultaneously deflecting any blame for commodity price inflation.

At worst, Bernanke's comments are yet another sign of the crass politicization of the Fed and its chairman, who might feel the need to please both powerful opponents in Congressional and friends at Treasury, who share frustrations with China's currency regime. (The enemy of my enemy is my friend, right?)

An important point that Trask makes is that the consequences of monetary inflation work themselves out in many different ways. When officials say there is no inflation, they are depending on CPI numbers. The weighted average of stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, however, increased 2.1% just last week alone. Such asset price inflation is not a sign of instant prosperity. It may very well be a sign of further malinvestment.

Blodget is also right to point out that despite Bernanke's not wanting to accept responsibility to commodity price inflation, he really loves the ideal of inflation and longs for price inflation rates that are much higher than they appear to be now.

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