The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City remained consistent in his opposition to current Fed monetary policy Tuesday, while also telling a group of economists that any quantitative easing undertaken by the central bank won’t provide benefits that outweigh costs. Speaking in Denver to the National Association of Business Economists, Thomas Hoenig said he understands the Fed’s desire to “do something, anything” to revive the economy, but maintaining the zero-interest rate policy and starting a second round of quantitative easing aren’t it. “Currently the markets are far calmer than in the fall of 2008,” he said. “The financial crisis has passed and financial markets are operating more normally. One could argue, in fact, that with markets mostly restored to pre-crisis functioning, the effect of asset purchases could be even smaller than the 10- to 25-basis point estimate.” Hoeing said proponents of additional asset purchases by the Fed, or QE2 as it’s become known, foresee a short-term boost to the economy through lower long-term interest rates and inflation moving closer to 2%. This is expected to boost demand for products and increase consumer spending, as well as encouraging mortgage refinancing, according to Hoeing. He has voted against every policy decision issued by the Federal Open Market Committee this year. He doesn’t feel the reinvestment of maturing mortgage-backed securities into Treasury securities help support the committee’s policy objectives of maximum employment and price stability. “FOMC should focus on fostering maximum employment and stable prices in the timeframe that monetary policy can legitimately affect – the future,” Hoenig said. “The FOMC must be mindful of this fact and be cautious in pursuing elusive short-term goals that have unintended and sometimes disruptive effects.” He also said markets are “awash in liquidity with trillions of dollars lying idle or searching for places to be deployed…dumping another trillion dollars into the system now will most likely mean they will follow the same path into excess reserves, or government securities, or ‘safe’ asset purchases.” Hoenig said the 850,000 jobs the private sector has created this year aren’t enough to offset overall employment declines and unemployment remains “stubbornly high” at 9.6%. Write to Jason Philyaw.
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