Bernanke has kept U.S. interest rates ultra-low for years, and if he had his druthers, he’d probably keep them there forever. But dissent is building within the Fed.
The Economist says this makes an interest rate hike more likely to happen sooner rather than later.
The most vocal dissident is Thomas Hoenig, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and the Fed’s longest-serving policymaker, who has twice formally objected to the Fed’s “extended period” language. That commitment plus zero rates, he explained on April 7th, lead “banks and investors to search for yield… take on additional risk [and] increase leverage”. He argued the Fed should soon raise rates to 1% to “end the borrowing subsidy”.
The next day Narayana Kocherlakota, president of the Minneapolis Fed, voiced a different concern: that the excess bank reserves created by the Fed’s MBS purchases create the potential for high inflation. He advocated selling $15 billion-25 billion of MBS a month, which would clear the Fed’s inventory in five years instead of the 30 it would take for the bonds to mature.
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