Paul Krugman: Harpooning Ben Bernanke


Brad DeLong has the best piece I’ve seen on Bernanke rage among the hedge funders. His point is that the hedgies keep thinking of the Fed as if it were a rogue trader driving prices away from their natural value, like JP Morgan’s London Whale, rather than as a central bank trying to achieve full employment and target inflation. Hence their rage at the failure of bond prices to collapse the way they “should”.

I’d riff on this a bit further. I suspect that the hedge fund guys are relying a lot on historical correlations that worked pretty well for decades: mean reversion of yields, correlations with deficits, etc., most of it pretty much model-free. The trouble is that a once-in-three-generations deleveraging shock makes such correlations useless. Cross-national analogies — i.e., Japan — would have been better, but don’t seem to have been applied.

What you should be doing is macro analysis, using something like IS-LM — something like what I did here, almost three years ago. (The forecasts have gotten worse since, so the implied long-term rate would be even lower).

But instead of saying that maybe this macro IS-LM stuff has a point, they’re raging against the man with the beard.

Harpooning Ben Bernanke –

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