The Rick Perry remarks that finally have Washington talking monetary policy can be found below. But to make a long story short, asked a question about Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Perry said “If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I dunno what y’all would do to him in Iowa but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treasonous in my opinion.”
I don’t really think reporters should take Perry’s views on treason or who does and doesn’t deserve to be killed all that seriously. After all, Perry has a record as an advocate of secession from the United States and as an executer of an innocent man. So if you want to do a story about Perry’s reckless ideas about patriotism or odd notions about when it’s appropriate to kill someone, I would suggest those incidents as offering more fruitful lines of inquiry. There’s a real issue here about policy substance.
Now “printing money,” if you know what you’re talking about, is what the Fed does all the time. See, for example, the steady increase in the monetary base throughout the Reagan years. The basic issue here is that people use dollars to conduct economic activity. Over time, the US population grows. So does the US economy. So does world population and the world economy. So people want more dollars. And a responsible central banker brings them into being. Lots of people, admittedly, don’t understand this. It’s a bit obscure and doesn’t get discussed much. And, frankly, it’s fine if you didn’t know that the monetary base just generally increases over time. But if you don’t know this, then when asked questions about it you should probably say “I don’t know” instead of saying something totally wrong. Compare Perry’s conduct with that of Mitt Romney who to his credit has always tried to avoid getting sucked into the populist right’s cesspool of monetary madness.
But now back to Perry. One thing he does seem to understand in these remarks is that if the Federal Reserve were to engage in expansionary monetary policy over the next 18 months, that would increase the economic growth rate. My view is that an increase in the economic growth rate would be a good thing, and that therefore the Fed should do this. Perry’s view appears to be that an increase in the economic growth rate would help Barack Obama’s re-election bid and therefore any steps to make it happen would be borderline treason. That, to me, seems like news. Perry is running on Texas’ impressive record of job creation, but he’s an avowed opponent of creating more jobs nationwide.