A new book suggests it wasn’t the bankers and Bush that caused the current “Great Recession,” it was the Fed and poor monetary policy. (Gee, wasn’t that one of the major causes of the Great Depression?)
It’s probably President Obama’s most politically effective line of attack against Mitt Romney.
The president argues that it was the unchecked, reckless, casino capitalism of the George W. Bush years — bank deregulation, tax cuts for the rich — that lead to the nation’s worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. And if Mitt Romney is elected in November, the Republican will bring those policies right back, risking another financial collapse.
Here’s what Obama said during that same speech where he told America’s entrepreneurs that “you didn’t build that”:
But I just want to point out that we tried their theory for almost 10 years … and it culminated in a crisis because there weren’t enough regulations on Wall Street and they could make reckless bets with other people’s money that resulted in this financial crisis, and you had to foot the bill. So that’s where their theory turned out.
But a book by Robert Hetzel, a senior economist at Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, says it wasn’t Bushonomics or greedy bankers or broken markets that caused the Great Recession. In The Great Recession: Market Failure or Policy Failure, Hetzel pins the blame squarely on the Federal Reserve and Team Bernanke.
Oh, the downturn first started with “correction of an excess in the housing stock and a sharp increase in energy prices” — the housing bust and the oil shock. Indeed, those two things were enough, in Hetzel’s view, to cause a “moderate recession” beginning in December 2007.
But only a moderate one. It was the Fed’s monetary policy miscues after the downturn began that turned a run-of-the-mill downturn into a once-in-a century disaster. Hetzel:
A moderate recession became a major recession in summer 2008 when the [Federal Open Market Committee] ceased lowering the federal funds rate while the economy deteriorated. The central empirical fact of the 2008-2009 recession is that the severe declines in output that in appeared in the [second quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009] … had already been locked in by summer 2008.
Read more here.