"It is easy to confuse what is with what ought to be, especially when what is has worked out in your favor."
- Tyrion Lannister

"Lannister. Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. They're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that's ones on top and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel."

- Daenerys Targaryen

"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where's the God of Tits and Wine?"

- Tyrion Lannister

"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

- Jorah Mormont

"These bad people are what I'm good at. Out talking them. Out thinking them."

- Tyrion Lannister

"What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics."

- Michael Barone

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
- Dorothy Parker

Friday, May 18, 2012

The central banker's bogeyman by Ryan Avent
Then yesterday, Mr Altig (blogger at Atlanta Fed) addressed an argument made by economist Simon Wren-Lewis:
In another recent blog item (also with a pointer from Mark Thoma), Simon Wren-Lewis offers the opinion that acknowledging uncertainty about size of the output gap actually argues in favor of being "less cautious" about taking an aggressive policy course. The basic idea is familiar. It is a simple matter to raise rates should the Fed overestimate the magnitude of the output gap. But with the short-term policy rates already at zero, it is not so easy to go in the opposite direction should we underestimate the gap.
All of recent history, in other words, suggests that Mr Wren-Lewis is exactly right: it's much easier for central banks to go in one direction than in the other. Now one could, as Mr Altig says, come up with a "plausible argument" in which things don't work like that. Given the very large and ongoing costs of labour-market weakness, I would certainly expect America's central bankers to do better than that. I would like to see some very clear evidence that a year or two of 4% inflation poses more of a threat than at least a year or two more of unemployment well above the natural rate. What we're getting instead is little more than hand-waving.

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