The CSS Blog Network

When Inflation Doves Cry

Money

Dollar bills. Photo: 401(K) 2012/flickr.

PITTSBURGH – The Wall Street Journal recently ran a front-page article reporting that the monetary-policy “doves,” who had forecast low inflation in the United States, have gotten the better of the “hawks,” who argued that the Fed’s monthly purchases of long-term securities, or so-called quantitative easing (QE), would unleash faster price growth. The report was correct but misleading, for it failed to mention why there is so little inflation in the US today. Were the doves right, or just lucky?

The US Federal Reserve Board has pumped out trillions of dollars of reserves, but never have so many reserves produced so little monetary growth. Neither the hawks nor the doves (nor anyone else) expected that. » More

Two Policy Prescriptions for the Global Crisis

International Currency

International currency. Photo: Warriorwriter/flickr.

WASHINGTON, DC – One thing that experts know, and that non-experts do not, is that they know less than non-experts think they do. This much was evident at the just-completed Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group – three intense days of talks that brought together finance ministers, central bankers, and other policymakers.

Our economic expertise is limited in fundamental ways. Consider monetary and fiscal policies. Despite decades of careful data collection and mathematical and statistical research, on many large questions we have little more than rules of thumb. For example, we know that we should lower interest rates and inject liquidity to fight stagnation, and that we should raise policy rates and banks’ cash-reserve ratios to stifle inflation. Sometimes we rely on our judgment in combining interest-rate action with open-market operations. But the fact remains that our understanding of these policies’ mechanics is rudimentary.
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Bitcoin: Cryptography and the Crowd

Direct democracy from a geek’s perspective. Image: TraderTim/flickr

Bitcoin is the world’s first decentralized, digital currency. Its extraordinary performance over the last half year has caused quite some stir, not only among ‘cyber geeks’. Users and supporters see Bitcoin as a technological breakthrough and expect its spending possibilities to increase as exponentially as its price. Meanwhile, critics point to many of these same characteristics as flaws. They are waiting for the bubble to burst, calling it a structurally flawed experiment.


How it works: This video – made possible with donations from the Bitcoin community– explains the basic idea behind the new currency:


To acquire Bitcoins, users can buy them on a trading platform or become ‘miners.’ The latter requires hardware and electricity – both usually purchased with conventional money. » More

Some Links on the Euro Crisis

One Euro? Photo: Jose Glez y Lopez/flickr

With the massive protests in Spain over the weekend and calls from respectable quarters for Greece to leave the Euro – which, as Daniel Knowles of the Telegraph succinctly illustrates (echoing Barry Eichengren’s working paper), could have genuinely catastrophic results – the future of the Eurozone is very much in question today in the world media.

Last August, Lorenzo Smaghi, writing for Foreign Affairs, offered an optimistic assessment that put a lot faith in the new financial governance structures – mainly the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF) – implemented that summer, but that optimism now seems to have been overtaken by events.

Whereas Charles Calomiris, in Foreign Policy, was telling us in January that the Euro was dead, in the May/June print edition of Foreign Affairs, Henry Farrell and John Quiggin offered a proposal to save it – “and the EU.”

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