When the Fed Goes from Whatever-It-Takes to Anything-We-Can-Think-Of
On Thursday, the Washington Post included an article on all the ways in which inflation hurts middle-income families, the acute shortage of baby formula, and the cooking-oil shortage’s cost impact in places ranging from a D.C. shop selling doughnuts to sub-Saharan Africa. Other articles chronicled stablecoins’ instability even as stock markets wobbled precariously above going so deeply into correction that investors are not just chastened, but also cudgeled. The same day, Chairman Powell won his second term by a wide margin even as he told Marketplace that he couldn’t promise a soft landing, didn’t mean to commit the FOMC to only fifty basis-point hikes, and knows how hard inflation hits for most households while being unsure that the Fed can do much about it. What markets make of this muddle remains to be seen by those not too faint of heart to look. What I know it means is that a White House under acute political pressure will ultimately do its best to transfer blame from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to 20th and Constitution at considerable cost to coherent policy.