Don’t go wobbly on us now, Ben Bernanke … Mervyn King, the Bank of England’s Governor, seems strangely alone in … seeing the absurdity of a recovery strategy where everybody tightens at once and surplus states keep on dumping excess capacity abroad. “I was struck by the mood at the G7, where several of the major economies around the world said quite openly that they were relying on external demand growth to generate growth. That can’t be true of everybody,” he said.
The West risks a slow grind into debt-deflation unless central banks offset fiscal tightening with monetary stimulus – QE, of course – to keep demand alive. Yet the Fed and the European Central Bank are letting credit contract. … Fed chairman Ben Bernanke told us in his 2002 speech “Deflation: Making Sure It Doesn’t Happen Here” that:
- Japan’s slide into deflation was “entirely unexpected”, and that it would be “imprudent” to rule out such a risk in America;
- “Sustained deflation can be highly destructive to a modern economy and should be strongly resisted”;
- That a “determined government” has the means to stop deflation, if necessary by use of the “printing press”.
Yet here we are, facing exactly that risk, unless you think one good quarter of inventory rebuilding has conjured away our debt bubble. The one-off inflation blip caused by a doubling of oil prices is already fading, revealing once again the deeper forces of deflation. Core prices fell 0.1% in January. They plummet from here.
So why has Bernanke broken ranks with King and begun to flirt with disaster by tightening too soon? Has he lost control to regional hawks, as in mid-2008? Have critics in Congress and the media got to him? Has China vetoed QE, fearing a stealth default on Treasury debt?
Don’t go wobbly on us now, Ben. If the governments of America, Europe, and Japan are to retrench – as they must – their central banks must stay super-loose to cushion the blow. Otherwise we will all sink into deflationary quicksand. – UK Telegraph