Lost in all this navel gazing is this central dichotomy: Americans have historically been steadfast in their rejection of all forms of central planning in other countries, spending our lives and our treasure to dismantle statist regimes from Nicaragua to the Soviet Union. But when it comes to our own central planners, it seems our good sense is compromised: our previous distaste turns to desire, our rejection turns to full embrace.
That history is replete with failed attempts at economic central planning matters not. Economic logic too fails to consume the myth that 12 central bankers can somehow efficiently direct the time preferences of hundreds of millions of independent actors. So why do we put up with it? Why do we embrace this myth?
Toward this end, Michael Wood's "The Road to Delphi: Scenes from the History of Oracles" is a good read. And though he makes only the briefest reference to the Fed in his book (suggesting the Fed chairman is "...the most important of current oracles in the West"), he places the human desire for oracles - for those seers who are considered a "source for wise council or prophetic statements" - into an historical context.
Donna Seaman of The American Library Association has this to say about Wood's work, and we can't improve upon it anymore than her:
"The allure of oracle stories resides in the fact that ambiguity and skepticism are intrinsic to the proceedings: the pronouncements of oracles tend to take the form of unsolvable riddles and puns. As Wood ponders the perverse inscrutability of prophecies, he wonders if fate is escapable, muses over 'our need for stories of equivocation,' and places 'the labor of interpretation' high among humankind's most persistent habits of being."
Such needs might indeed be 'persistent', but that doesn't make them optimal. And like central planners everywhere, the Fed does not exist to serve the majority.
Remember this at 2:15pm when everyone else is parsing the phrase 'measured' or whatever other ridiculous adjective the Fed spent their afternoon on.
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