Inflation Hawk Down

Excellent column from David Leonhardt on the inflation hawks who keep being wrong about everything:

What’s striking about the last six months, however, is how much more accurate the doves’ diagnosis of the economy has looked than the hawks’.

Early this year, for example, Thomas Hoenig, president of the Kansas City Fed and probably the most prominent hawk, gave a speech in Washington warning about the risks of an overheated economy and inflation. Mr. Hoenig suggested that the kind of severe inflation that the United States experienced in the 1970s or even that Germany did in the 1920s was a real possibility.

When he gave the speech, annual inflation was 2.7 percent. Today, it’s 1.1 percent.


The doves, on the other hand, pointed out that recoveries from financial crises tended to be weak because consumers and businesses were slow to resume spending. Around the world over the last century, the typical crisis caused the jobless rate to rise for almost five years, according to research by the economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff. By that timetable, the unemployment rate would rise for a year and a half more.

Relatedly, someone needs to tell Shahien Nasiripour to stop relying on Hoenig as some kind of populist hero. For all Ben Bernanke’s flaws, he’s by far the lesser of those two evils.