Would President Donald Trump’s recent Federal Reserve nominees lead the Mises wing of the Libertarian Party? No. Have his picks been interesting to say the least? Yes. Though far from being reincarnations of Murray Rothbard or disciples of Walter Block, the last couple of nominations have been an improvement from the typical Keynesian, status quo selections who advocate more of the same.
Up until the media tried to destroy his professional life, Stephen Moore supported a return to the gold standard. Before withdrawing from consideration to work at the Fed, Herman Cain was vocal about adopting a sound money policy – and he is black, something the left has been whining about for the last couple of years. Trump’s latest nominee is a mixed bag, but she has been a staunch critic of the Eccles Building, and that is essential at a time when the central bank has had carte blanche to manipulate interest rates, expand the money supply, and produce bubbles.
Who is this person, and will she survive the media firestorm heading her way?
Gimme Judy Shelton
According to Bloomberg, the White House is considering conservative economist Judy Shelton to fill one of the two vacancies on the Fed’s Board of Governors. She reportedly met with Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, but Shelton has not met with the president.
Shelton presently acts as the U.S. executive director for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Previously, she was an adviser to the Trump campaign and worked at the Sound Money Project, a group founded in 2009 to perform research and promote awareness regarding monetary stability and financial privacy. Shelton also penned two books, including The Coming Soviet Crash, which examined the Russian economy and its collapse.
In April, Shelton wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, titled “The Case for Monetary Regime Change.” Her supposition was that it is “entirely prudent to question the infallibility of the Federal Reserve in calibrating the money supply to the needs of the economy.” Why? She accurately blamed the Fed’s “influence over the creation of money and credit” for the 2008 financial crisis.
Last year, she wrote in a Cato Institute paper: “We make America great again by making America’s money great again.” One way to achieve this, she suggested, is to link the U.S. dollar to gold or another commodity rather than blanket trust in the federal government.
Speaking in an interview with Fortune during the 2016 election campaign, Shelton was blunt in calling for “a fundamental reassessment of the global monetary order.” She outlined her concerns over central banks around the world acquiring corporate assets and the Federal Reserve prolonging the normalization of interest rates. The economist ultimately believes that the central bank is the “biggest risk” to the economy. “I think it’s perfectly legitimate to question whether the current monetary system we have is working, and whether we’ve solved the imbalances that led to the last crisis,” she said. That is some serious libertarian, anti-globalist speak that the Fed needs right now. Of course, there is always a but…
A True Inflationary
Unfortunately, Shelton now holds positions that contradict past statements and mirror the central planning measures of the Keynesians. This has been a common trait with past Fed picks, including Marvin Goodfriend and Nellie Liang – at least she is not proposing to eliminate cash.
Recently, in a separate interview, Shelton endorsed near-zero interest rates, which would certainly please President Trump who has demanded the central bank cut rates. Moreover, she does not like the policy of paying interest on excess money that financial institutions hold at the Fed to set rates because it enables these banks to hold funds rather than lend to potential borrowers. Instead, Shelton would institute rock-bottom rates again and sell off the Fed’s holdings of Treasury securities and government bonds to prevent skyrocketing price inflation.
However, these policies would have the reverse effect, unleashing a tidal wave of inflation (the expansion of the money supply). First, cutting rates would produce more dollars and create price inflation. Second, there is approximately $1.2 trillion in excess reserves, so if that money seeps into the system, then the money supply would spike by $1.2 trillion.
Joseph Salerno, vice president of the Mises Institute, may have said it best when he wrote that the supply-sider’s apparent view would be that “I favor sound money – and plenty of it.”
Best Political Choice?
For now, Shelton may be the best political choice for President Trump, much in the same way that Stephen Moore and Herman Cain were.
It is clear by now that he will not nominate individuals who really want to abolish the Fed, introduce a free market system for money, and allow recessions to cure economic woes. Again, it is the system that is the problem, not the people occupying the Eccles Building. Therefore, libertarians may need to be practical, realizing that Shelton is the best pick out of a basket of bad apples – or central planners. She can at least sympathize with the “End the Fed” crowd, unlike 99% of past nominees.
In the end, however, it will not matter anyway. Despite being a woman, a gender the left has constantly requested more of at the central bank, the media will take her to task. The mainstream press will dig up every little detail that could shine a negative light – she may have read Ayn Rand in college! – or describe her policy proposals as “extremist.” In the age of Trump Derangement Syndrome, that is how the media operate. Shelton may not be able to prove if she wants to dismantle the global monetary system or resuscitate the post-Keynesian measures.
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