ECONOMYNEXT – The US Federal Reserve has hiked rates 75 basis points to 3.25 percent and pledged to suck out 95 billion US dollars in liquidity from the banking system from September in bid to reign in a commodity bubble that has pushed up energy and food prices around the world.
“My colleagues and I are strongly committed to bringing inflation back down to our 2 percent goal,” Fed Chief Jerome Powell told reporters.
“We have both the tools we need and the resolve it will take to restore price stability on behalf of American families and businesses.
“Price stability is the responsibility of the Federal Reserve and serves as the bedrock of our economy. Without price stability, the economy does not work for anyone.”
The Federal Reserve lost control of its 2.0 percent inflation target after printing large volumes of money to generate ‘jobs’ in the worst policy error since the Greenspan-Bernanke bubble in 2008, triggering a worldwide spike food and other commodity prices.
Inflation is now at levels seen in the early 1980s, when then Fed Chief Paul Volcker had to correct policy errors of Arthur Burns in the 1970s which led to the collapse of the Bretton Woods and the end of a centuries old gold standard.
Like some developing country central banks and Burns himself, Powell in 2021 blamed non-monetary causes such as ‘supply chain’ claiming inflation would be ‘transitory’ while classical economists warned that money supply was growing at unusually high levels.
The Fed said it will also sell down its Treasuries by 60 billion US dollars a month and agency debt another 35 billion US dollar a month to reduce liquidity in banks.
However the tightening comes amid an unusual slowdown in the US official M1 and M2 money supply numbers and steeper than announced fall in reserve balances through its open market operations to defend its earlier policy rate, indicating a higher level of ‘quantity tightening’ than announced.
Read Fed implementation note here
Read Feds FOMC statement here
Reserve balances (liquidity and the monetary base) have been falling faster than the ‘quantity tightening’ limits set by the Fed up to August.
Bubbling food commodity prices have reduced access to food to less affluent individuals around the world.
Countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia with bad soft-pegged central banks which also printed money during the Coronavirus crises but did not raise rates to contain domestic credit has seen their currencies collapsing.
As soft-pegged central bank through their failure to maintain the value of the currency have put large sections of their populations into near starvation which is quaintly referred to as ‘food insecurity’.
Several African currencies whose currencies have tanked have placed price controls and taken food of the shelves. In Tunisia farmers are killing milch cows for meat due to price control on milk. In Sri Lanka poultry farmers in trouble after price controls on eggs.
Stable pegs which did not collapse in the 2018 tightening exercise of the Fed including Vietnam are seeing pressure as US rates go up.
Bangladesh’s Taka, which cut rates in 2021 amid a post-Covid recovery is already tanking. Monetary authorities with better pegs usually raise rates in line with the anchor currency to match their credit cycles. (Colombo/Sept22/2022)