The Federal Reserve, founded in secret by bankers to serve bankers in secret, is not about to relinquish it’s secrets–ever.
Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen urged lawmakers to tread lightly when it comes to overhauling the central bank, warning that proposed changes could undermine its ability to support the economy.In prepared testimony, Yellen will tout the Fed’s own efforts to boost its transparency as a way to discourage lawmakers from pushing their own proposals to bring the Fed under stricter oversight.“Efforts to further increase transparency, no matter how well intentioned, must avoid unintended consequences that could undermine the Federal Reserve’s ability to make policy in the long-run best interest of American families and businesses,” she said.
Yellen’s testimony Wednesday before the House Financial Services Committee will come one day after that panel held a hearing in which Republicans blasted the Fed as being unaccountable.While Yellen will argue in her testimony that Fed tweaks could subject the central bank to political pressure and make it less effective, GOP lawmakers have argued the Fed holds up its political independence as a way to avoid scrutiny.“The Fed’s clamor for independence is its underpinning for circumventing any sort of congressional accountability,” said Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) on Tuesday.
The relationship between the Fed and Republicans has been touchy ever since the Fed embarked on an unprecedented run of monetary stimulus following the recession. But the dynamic took a turn for the worse recently, as the Fed has refused to comply with demands for documents lawmakers seek in conjunction with a probe into a 2012 leak of sensitive Fed information.The Financial Services panel went so far as to issue subpoenas for some documents, at which point the Fed refused to provide them, citing an ongoing criminal probe into the matter by the Department of Justice.
Lawmakers have pushed a number of ideas to overhaul the Fed, from reworking its structure, requiring additional top-ranking Fed spots to be confirmed by the Senate or even requiring the Fed to set monetary policy based on an explicit rule.Yellen has pushed back against all those ideas, arguing that the Fed has been set up the way it has for particular reasons and changes could render it less effective at a critical juncture.Elsewhere in her testimony, Yellen reiterated that if the economy continues to improve as expected, the Fed will “likely” raise rates sometime later this year for the first time since the financial crisis.However, that prediction came with the usual caveats, as she said the Fed would be watching all incoming information closely to better inform that decision.
In particular, she singled out foreign trouble as a potential pitfall, as China has seen its stock market enter a tumultuous phase, while Greece struggles to pay off its debt.Back home, Yellen said the U.S. economy appears to be positioned to improve further in the months ahead, after a disappointing first quarter that saw no economic growth. As she had in the past, Yellen said those weak first quarter numbers were caused by some temporary factors that should not be an issue going forward, like harsh winter weather and a labor dispute that halted ports along the West Coast.
Is the Federal Reserve above the law? It sure seems to think it is. In the name of “independence” the Fed thinks it can do whatever it wants including ignoring a congressional subpoena. (Really this is probably one of the least of its “crimes.”)“Independent” does not mean “sovereign”. Someone should remind the Fed of this.(From The Hill)Yellen promised that the Fed will ultimately comply with Hensarling’s demands but only after the criminal investigation is complete. But that rationale is unlikely to sway Hensarling, who has long griped that the Fed has been slow to respond to questions about how the leak at the usually secretive Fed occurred.A Financial Services Committee staffer called the Fed’s resistance “unacceptable and disturbing.”“The Fed once again is acting in a manner that can only be characterized as resistant to accountability, transparency and oversight,” the staffer said.
The world’s most exclusive club has eighteen members. They gather every other month on a Sunday evening at 7 p.m. in conference room E in a circular tower block whose tinted windows overlook the central Basel railway station. Their discussion lasts for one hour, perhaps an hour and a half. Some of those present bring a colleague with them, but the aides rarely speak during this most confidential of conclaves. The meeting closes, the aides leave, and those remaining retire for dinner in the dining room on the eighteenth floor, rightly confident that the food and the wine will be superb. The meal, which continues until 11 p.m. or midnight, is where the real work is done. The protocol and hospitality, honed for more than eight decades, are faultless. Anything said at the dining table, it is understood, is not to be repeated elsewhere.
Few, if any, of those enjoying their haute cuisine and grand cru wines— some of the best Switzerland can offer—would be recognized by passers-by, but they include a good number of the most powerful people in the world. These men—they are almost all men—are central bankers. They have come to Basel to attend the Economic Consultative Committee (ECC) of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), which is the bank for central banks. Its current members [ZH: as of 2013] include Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the US Federal Reserve; Sir Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England; Mario Draghi, of the European Central Bank; Zhou Xiaochuan of the Bank of China; and the central bank governors of Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Canada, India, and Brazil. Jaime Caruana, a former governor of the Bank of Spain, the BIS’s general manager, joins them.
In early 2013, when this book went to press, King, who is due to step down as governor of the Bank of England in June 2013, chaired the ECC. The ECC, which used to be known as the G-10 governors’ meeting, is the most influential of the BIS’s numerous gatherings, open only to a small, select group of central bankers from advanced economies. The ECC makes recommendations on the membership and organization of the three BIS committees that deal with the global financial system, payments systems, and international markets. The committee also prepares proposals for the Global Economy Meeting and guides its agenda.