Janet Yellen and the Art of Bullshit
The next titular head of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, showed that she has the necessary skill-set of talking without saying anything for the position.
Michael Whitney described this skill-set in his piece yesterday, titled The Coronation of Janet Yellen:
Yellen is as slippery as they come. She skillfully dodges tough questions by poring over arcane economic theory that sounds like an answer, but really doesn’t reveal anything about how she plans to lead. She also has a good sense of how her diminutive appearance works in her favor making it impossible for male senators to be too tough on her without being seen as “sexist” or “bullies”. Also, she’s already mastered the opaque language of the Fed, that is, she knows how to use circuitous, jargon-laden koans and pompous-sounding gibberish to conceal the Central Bank’s real agenda which is to shift more wealth to its constituents on Wall Street.
On the two questions that were on everyone’s mind–QE and asset bubbles–Yellen was characteristically evasive. While she opined that she would continue to “support the recovery” (in other words, keep the money flowing to Wall Street.) she obliquely added, “the program cannot continue forever.”
How’s that for clarity? In other words, “We’re going to keep doing the same thing, but we’re going to stop, too…. probably.”
To no one’s surprise, the Committee found this answer entirely satisfying.
None of our elected representatives found it necessary to prod Yellen about the failure of the Fed’s QE program because they are hopelessly captured assets of Wall Street. Here is an example from Whitney’s article:
Instead of grilling the candidate on conspicuously-flawed policies that have failed to produce a sustainable recovery after 5 years, ingratiating senators, like Chuck Schumer, felt their time would be better spent congratulating Yellen and singing her praises.
“I think you’ll make a great chair, and your Brooklyn wisdom shines through,” beamed the Senator from New York.
Thanks for that, Chuck. You’re a great American.
Yellen’s finest moment —if you can call it that–was her “bubble-denial” performance which makes her a shoo-in for this year’s Oscar awards. Yellen dismissed the idea that the Fed’s $3 trillion liquidity surge had made markets more frothy.
Instead of simply quoting Yellen’s response, I’m going to take her language and break into lines, so that it resembles a poem. Here is her brilliant response:
I don’t see
evidence at this point
of asset prices, misalignments.
there is limited evidence
of reach for yield
we don’t see a broad buildup
where the development of risks
that I think at this stage
poses a risk
to financial stability.
The rest of the article features Whitney showing why Yellen is full of shit:
Everything is bubbly. Everything. Which is what happens when you pump $3 trillion into financial assets. (The Fed’s balance sheet has exploded to nearly $4 trillion mainly due to QE.)
And did you catch that part about investors dumping $51 billion into companies that ARE LOSING MONEY. Chew on that for a minute. This is just like the dot.com craze when rates were so low that speculators loaded up on everything they could get their hands on. It didn’t matter what you bought, because the loose-goosy monetary policy and uber-leverage kept driving stocks higher by the day. Then–without notice– Greenspan pulled the rug out from under the markets by raising rates which sent equities into the shi**er. Remember that? And now we’re seeing the same thing all over again. It’s like Back to the Future 2.
But Yellen sees none of it, in fact, she wants to keep the money flowing for as long as possible, until the bubble is so humongous that the slightest pin-prick puts the financial system into a death spiral and the real economy slumps back into recession.
It’s madness. Just like it’s madness for the committee to even consider a candidate with Yellen’s dodgy resume. Do we really want someone running the Fed who argued “against” deflating the housing bubble because she thought it would only be “a good-sized bump in the road, but that the economy would be able to absorb the shock”?
I’m glad Larry Summers isn’t going to be getting this gig, but let’s not kid ourselves, Janet Yellen won’t be any better. Under her “leadership” the scam will continue.