Volcker, the Last Central Banker in America to Have Any Real Integrity

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The poor bankers. Now Paul Volcker is giving them hell.

Volcker was the last central banker in America to have any real integrity. He saw what needed to be done and he did it. He hiked up rates and brought consumer price inflation under control. Thus began the bull market in bonds that continues to this day…29 years later.

Volcker saved the dollar…and saved the US economy from a worse bout of stagflation.

Circumstances are very different today. Now, our central bankers are trying to weaken the dollar. They see it as a way to escape debt and get out of a depression. This is, by the way, the depression caused by their own loose-money credit policies. Under the influence of artificially low interest rates, people borrowed too much. Then, they had to cut back…creating today’s depression.

Bernanke and company think they can hold off a correction forever – by increasing the amount of cash and credit available.

How does that work, again? People have too much debt…so you give them more, right? Investors and businessmen made too many mistakes…so you enable them to keep making them, right? The bankers lent too much money to too many people who couldn’t pay it back, so you insist that they offer more credit, right?

Everyone is mad at bankers. Not us, of course. We pet underdogs. We champion lost causes. We stand by diehards.

As far as we’re concerned, the bankers stole their money fair and square.

But the poor English bankers aren’t getting away with it. The sourpuss government of Gordon Brown just hit them with a 50% super-tax on their bonuses. Boo hoo.

And here’s Paul Volcker, as reported in the London Telegraph, telling them to wise up:

The former US Federal Reserve chairman told an audience that included some of the world’s most senior financiers that their industry’s “single most important” contribution in the last 25 years has been automatic telling machines, which he said had at least proved “useful”. Echoing FSA chairman Lord Turner’s comments that banks are “socially useless”, Mr. Volcker told delegates who had been discussing how to rebuild the financial system to “wake up”. He said credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations had taken the economy “right to the brink of disaster” and added that the economy had grown at “greater rates of speed” during the 1960s without such products. When one stunned audience member suggested that Mr. Volcker did not really mean bond markets and securitizations had contributed “nothing at all”, he replied: “You can innovate as much as you like, but do it within a structure that doesn’t put the whole economy at risk.” He said he agreed with George Soros, the billionaire investor, who said investment banks must stick to serving clients and “proprietary trading should be pushed out of investment banks and to hedge funds where they belong.”

Bill Bonner
for The Daily Reckoning Australia

Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Best-selling investment author Bill Bonner is the founder and president of Agora Publishing, one of the world's most successful consumer newsletter companies. Owner of both Fleet Street Publications and MoneyWeek magazine in the UK, he is also author of the free daily e-mail The Daily Reckoning.
Bill Bonner

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Comments

  1. I was always told, never by a music centre. If the tape deck goes, you have to send the whole lot off to be fixed and you lose your whole source of music. By seperates young Joe, that way, should any unit break it can easily be repaired or replaced without affecting the rest. (Obviously this excludes amplifier and speakers without which no sound would be produced).
    As a consequence I have always brought seperate hifi components. If I want to add a CD player, bingo. No longer need a tape deck, or a record deck, bingo. Add a media player, easy. New better speakers, done.

    So, as we saw in the GFC, break any part of a big bank that has (like a music centre) pitched itself into every aspect of money management, and you break the whole bank. What is worse is, that bankers will hide a division or an investment arms mistakes by asborbing the losses almost unnoticably so as to not threaten their annual bonus, so when it finally comes out the damage is so bad it doesn’t just undermine profit, it undermines the very foundations of the bank.

    I agree with Mr Volcker as it makes sense.

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  2. Sorry typo in first line. Buy.

    Reply
  3. Warning serial bad typer … Also buy on the 2nd line.

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  4. Volcker did the exchange rate trick like the worst of them and stood by during the massive defense sector public debt bog and stimulus from which trickle down services and latent US consumerism engines were supercharged and reborn. The rust belt rotted and unsustainable defense spending found too few new technology spin offs for it to have been judged long term a successfull mercantilist programme in the German fashion, the rust belts died and technology screwdriver plants hunted for subsidised sites around the globe. Volcker did some good beating out the inflation but was complicit in all the bad next steps that led to Bush sr’s defeat and the Clinton private sector funny money teams rise.

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