lunedì 16 agosto 2010

Krugman e Siegel all'attacco di Bernanke, ovvero le indecisioni della Fed

Povero Bernanke! Non c'è più solo Krugman ad accusarlo di paralisi ma anche Jeremy Siegel accusa la Fed di non fare abbastanza per sostenere la crescita dell'economia U.S.A. Secondo Krugman America’s current economic troubles aren’t exactly identical to those of Japan in 1999-2000: Japan was experiencing outright deflation, while we aren’t — yet. But inflation is well below the Fed’s target of around 2 percent, and it is continuing to slide. And Americans face a level of unemployment, and sheer human misery, far worse than anything Japan went through.
Yet the Fed is doing almost nothing to confront these troubles.
What could the Fed be doing? Back when, Mr. Bernanke suggested, among other things, that the Bank of Japan could get traction by buying large quantities of “nonstandard” assets — that is, assets other than the short-term government debt central banks normally hold. The Fed actually put that idea into practice during the most acute phase of the financial crisis, acquiring, in particular, large amounts of mortgage-backed securities. However, it stopped those purchases in March.
Since then, the economic news has grown steadily worse. And earlier this week, the Fed changed course — but barely. It now says that it will reinvest the proceeds from maturing securities in long-term government bonds. That’s a trivial change, basically the least the Fed could get away with without facing a firestorm of criticism — and far short of the major asset-purchase program the Fed should be undertaking.
A differenza della Banca Centrale Europea uno degli obiettivi statutari della Federal Riserve Bank è promuove la massima occupazione. Da qui l'accusa senza mezzi termini di Krugman: while the Fed sits there in its self-inflicted paralysis, millions of Americans are losing their jobs, their homes and their hopes for the future. 
La prosa di Siegel è meno appassionata ma la sostanza è più o meno la stessa. Per cominciare  The Fed’s move on August 10 to “keep the balance sheet of the central bank stable” and offset the run-off of mortgage-backed securities with Treasury purchases was just a baby step.  Much stronger measures can and should be taken to combat the economic slowdown.  Secondo Siegel la Fed dovrebbe ridurre a zero i tassi di interesse che paga sulle riserve bancarie e riprendere la strategia di quantitative easing espandendo le riserve del sistema bancario. Il meccanismo è ben illustrato dallo stesso Siegel: Banks hold large excess reserves because they wish to show regulators and investors a high level of liquidity.
This does not mean that banks would hold unlimited excess reserves.  In fact, banks are not happy earning near zero interest on these reserves, nor are investors satisfied with similar rates on their money market funds.  Placing more zero-interest reserves into the banking system will tempt more banks to make loans where the profit margin is much higher.
Although the Fed’s main policy tool, the Fed Funds rate, works on short-term interest rates, QE has the potential to lower longer-term rates, especially if the asset purchases are concentrated in long-dated securities.

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