Federal Reserve’s Fisher says tightening will be aggressive
Marshall Auerback pointed out a statement from Dallas Fed Chief Richard Fisher today that is not getting a lot of attention despite its importance. He said:
I expect that when it comes time to tighten monetary policy, my colleagues and I will move with an alacrity that, if needed, will be equal in speed and intensity to that with which we pursued monetary accommodation.
This is extremely hawkish language from Fisher. If true, it would be an upward move more akin to 1993-1994 than to 2004-2007. If you recall, the Fed Funds rate bottomed at 3% in May 1993. The Fed then aggressively raised rates to 6% in the next two years. This was not the ”measured” interest-rate hike campaign that the Federal Reserve followed after the Dot.com bubble.
The mid-nineties rise in rates led to a major bust at investment banks which were long treasuries like Goldman Sachs and also led to the so-called Tequila crisis (see my write-up on this in a post called “1995.”). This was the first full blown financial crisis of the Greenspan era and it seems the lesson the Fed took from the event was that it needed an asymmetric monetary policy in which rate cuts are more aggressive and quicker than hikes.
We have seen the folly in this policy, euphemistically known as ‘the Greenspan Put’ as gigantic asset bubbles ballooned out of control following cuts in 1998-1999 and 2002-2003. Fisher, a well-known inflation hawk, might be speaking for himself. Or he might be signaling there will be no Bernanke Put.