# Inflation

Harkin yes, Grassley no as Senate confirms Yellen to chair the Fed

Today the U.S. Senate confirmed Janet Yellen to be the first woman to chair the Federal Reserve. All of the Democrats present, including Iowa’s Tom Harkin, voted for the cloture motion on Yellen’s nomination in December. All of the Democrats present on January 6 voted to confirm her, joined by eleven Republicans. Incidentally, only 59 senators voted for cloture, which would have sunk Yellen under old Senate rules. Senate Democrats removed the 60-vote requirement for motions on presidential nominations in November.

Although a sizable group of Republicans voted to confirm Yellen, most of the Senate GOP caucus opposed her nomination, including Iowa’s Chuck Grassley. In a floor statement I’ve posted after the jump, Grassley said he could not support her nomination because he is concerned the Federal Reserve’s “easy money” policies are “misguided” and will lead to high inflation. Yellen is widely considered an “inflation dove” who is willing to balance the Fed’s longstanding concern for keeping inflation down with a focus on reducing unemployment.

UPDATE: Corrected to clarify that the cloture vote on Yellen happened before the holiday recess. Grassley was among the 26 Republicans who voted no on Yellen’s confirmation. Harkin was absent for the final vote on Yellen on January 6, as were many other senators because of the extreme winter weather.

Continue Reading...

Harkin will vote no on Bernanke

Senator Tom Harkin told the Des Moines Register and Radio Iowa today that he will vote against confirming Ben Bernanke to another term as chairman of the Federal Reserve. Radio Iowa quoted him as saying he’s “tired of being held hostage by Wall Street”:

“I just think Mr. Bernanke is going to continue the policy of The Fed of taking care of the big financial institutions and to heck with Main Street,” Harkin says.

Harkin faults Bernanke for the handling of the Wall Street bailout. “Mr. Bernanke gave away trillions of dollars of taxpayers’ money to AIG at almost zero percent interest rate, and then they turned around and they held their counterparties – French, Germans, Swiss and many others – harmless. They didn’t have to take a hair cut at all,” Harkin says, “They got paid off in full and yet we (taxpayers) lost trillions.” […]

“I’ve had it with being told that some bank is too big to fail and I’ve had it with being told that someone, some person is so important that we have to have that person in this position.  That’s nonsense,” Harkin says.

Looks like someone didn’t get the memo about “our mild-mannered economic overlord” saving the country. Good for Harkin.

Meanwhile, Senator Chuck Grassley told the Des Moines Register, “I think I made a decision [on Bernanke] […] But I don’t think I’ll announce it.” Grassley went on to criticize the Fed for doing too little to fight inflation, suggesting we could be on a path to hyper-inflation like we had in 1979.

With unemployment at a 26-year high, I’m surprised Grassley is so concerned about hyper-inflation. Economists, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t deflation a greater risk right now?

Continue Reading...

Wanted at the Fed: An Inflation Dove

(Whether or not the Senate confirms Ben Bernanke for another term as Fed chairman, this diary raises a critical issue. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

I was just reading that Janet Yellen, recently mentioned as a possible replacement for Fed chair Ben Bernanke, is considered on Wall Street to be an “inflation dove,” which means that she considers maintaining full employment to be -gasp!- “as important” as controlling inflation.

I also wonder about Brad DeLong at Berkeley. He was in the Treasury Department in the Clinton Administration. He's a free trader, which I guess is neither here nor there when it comes to monetary policy (and not necessarily bad in any case), but I like that he's an economic historian.

In any case, we strongly need someone who will put reducing unemployment tops on the list. I know, from personal experience, how unemployment can convulse a family…


Continue Reading...