The Federal Reserve Is Causing Turmoil Abroad
In accounts of the political unrest sweeping through the Middle East, one factor, inflation, deserves more attention. Nothing can be more demoralizing to people at the low end of the income scale—where great masses in that region reside—than increases in the cost of basic necessities like food and fuel.
Probably few of the protesters in the streets connect their economic travail to Washington. But central bankers do. They complain, most recently at last week’s G-20 meeting in Paris, that the U.S. is exporting inflation.
China and India blame the U.S. Federal Reserve for their difficulties in maintaining stable prices. The International Monetary Fund and the United Nations, always responsive to the complaints of developing nations, are suggesting alternatives to the dollar as the pre-eminent international currency. The IMF managing director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has proposed replacement of the dollar. About the only one failing to acknowledge a problem seems to be the man most responsible, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Mr. Bernanke has made it clear that his policy is to inflate the money supply. His second round of quantitative easing—the controversial QE2 policy to systematically purchase $600 billion in Treasury securities with newly created money—serves that aim. Oil is going up. Foodstuffs are going up. And when the Fed sneezes money, the weak economies of the world, and the poor masses who are highly vulnerable to price rises in the necessities of life, catch pneumonia.