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In the new Wall Street Journal article, “Fed Fires $600 Billion Stimulus Shot,” Jon Hilsenrath reports that the day after the stunning mid-term elections that clearly were a referendum against the Keynesian spending binge of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the Federal Reserve has launched another gigantic “stimulus” measure exactly like what the public has turned against:
The Federal Reserve, in a dramatic effort to rev up a “disappointingly slow” economic recovery, said it will buy $600 billion of U.S. government bonds over the next eight months to drive down interest rates and encourage more borrowing and growth.
Many outside the Fed, and some inside, see the move as a ‘Hail Mary’ pass by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. He embraced highly unconventional policies during the financial crisis to ward off a financial-system collapse. But a year and a half later, he confronts an economy hobbled by high unemployment, a gridlocked political system and the threat of a Japan-like period of deflation, or a debilitating fall in consumer prices. . . .
In essence, the Fed now will print money to buy as much as $900 billion in U.S. government bonds through June—an amount roughly equal to the government’s total projected borrowing needs over that period.
In normal times, a Fed spending spree on government bonds would be highly inflationary, because it would flood the economy with money and raise worries about too much government spending. The mere worry of too much inflation in financial markets could drive long-term interest rates higher and cause the Fed’s program to backfire. . . .
Thomas Hoenig, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, who described the move before the meeting as a “bargain with the devil,” was the lone dissenter in a 10-1 vote of the Fed’s policy committee. He said the risks of additional government bond purchases outweighed the benefits. . . .