Central Bank Policy is Obscuring Market Values, Warsh Tells Stanford Audience

By Chris Powell
January 26, 2012

The Gata Dispatch

Dear Friend of GATA and Gold:

Central banks are now so heavily influencing asset prices that investors are unable to ascertain market values, former Federal Reserve Board of Governors member Kevin M. Warsh told the Stanford University Institute for Economic Policy Research tonight.

This influence is especially evident, Warsh said, with the Fed’s purchase of government bonds, which has made it impossible for investors to use bond prices to learn anything about markets.

Warsh, who disclosed during GATA’s freedom-of-information litigation with the Fed in 2009 that the central bank has secret gold swap arrangements with foreign banks (http://www.gata.org/files/GATAFedResponse-09-17-2009.pdf), added that the Fed is trying to do too much and the rest of the government not enough to encourage economic growth.

While he said nothing explicitly about gold, Warsh seemed to come pretty close to your secretary/treasurer’s observation almost four years ago that there are no markets anymore, just central bank interventions. (See http://www.gata.org/node/6241.)

Warsh was especially critical of the federal government’s efforts to stimulate the housing market. “The government-sponsored housing entities remain sources of vulnerability to the U.S. economy,” he said, “and repeated ad-hoc attempts to push Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to take greater risks at taxpayer expense are deeply counterproductive.” Such efforts have not succeeded, he added.

Warsh said higher real incomes are far more important to economic growth than recovery in the housing sector.

He said he opposed pursuing economic recovery through inflating debt away and devaluing the currency.

Warsh was the youngest person ever appointed to the Fed board, resigning eight months ago after five years in office, and is now a distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford and a lecturer in the university’s Graduate School of Business. He received his undergraduate degree at Stanford in 1992 and a law degree at Harvard three years later. He was special assistant for economic policy under President George W. Bush and executive secretary of the National Economic Council. He was also a member of the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, commonly known as the Plunge Protection Team.

Warsh spoke tonight from an outline he provided to GATA and then answered questions from his audience, which included Stanford faculty and students. The outline is appended.

Warsh’s talk was broadcast live at the Internet site of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research — http://siepr.stanford.edu/ — and video of it is expected to be posted there shortly.

CHRIS POWELL, Secretary/Treasurer
Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.

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