confession: U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner – It Was a Hayekian Artificial Boom, i.e. a Money Driven Misdirection of Resources Made the Bust Inevitable

U.S. Treasury Sec. & former NY Fed President Timothy Geithner on the Charlie Rose show:

Mr. Geithner: ” .. I would say there were three types of broad errors of policy and policy both here and around the world. One was that monetary policy around the world was too loose too long. And that created this just huge boom in asset prices, money chasing risk. People trying to get a higher return. That was just overwhelmingly powerful.

Mr. Rose: “It was too easy.”

Mr. Geithner: “It was too easy, yes. In some ways less so here in the United States, but it was true globally. Real interest rates were very low for a long period of time.”

Mr. Rose: “Now, that’s an observation. The mistake was that monetary policy was not by the Fed, was not . . .”

Mr. Geithner: “Globally is what matters.”

Mr. Rose: “By central bankers around the world.”

Mr. Geithner: “Remember as the Fed started — the Fed started tightening earlier, but our long rates in the United States started to come down — even were coming down even as the Fed was tightening over that period of time, and partly because monetary policy around the world was too loose, and that kind of overwhelmed the efforts of the Fed to initially tighten. Now, but you know, we all bear a responsibility for that. I’m not trying to put it on the world.”

Via the Mises Econ Blog.

UPDATE:  Economist Dave Beckworth:

For all the grief the Treasury Secretary is receiving, he should be given credit for this admission of policy failure. I would note, though, that monetary policy was highly expansionary across the globe primarily because it was expansionary in the United States.  As I have noted earlier:

The Fed is a is a monetary hegemon. It holds the world’s main reserve currency and many emerging markets are formally or informally pegged to dollar. Thus, its monetary policy is exported across the globe. This means that the other two monetary powers, the ECB and Japan, are mindful of U.S. monetary policy lest their currencies becomes too expensive relative to the dollar and all the other currencies pegged to the dollar. As as result, the Fed’s monetary policy gets exported to some degree to Japan and the Euro area as well. (See this post on evidence for U.S. monetary policy being exported to ECB.) The global liquidity glut story seems most compelling for the 2002-2004 period when the Fed’s policy rate was negative in real terms and below the growth rate of productivity (i.e. the fed funds rate was below the natural rate). Thus, its highly accommodative monetary policy during this time was exported to the world.

I am hoping the Secretary’s admission will open the door for a mea culpa from those Fed officials who actually oversaw U.S. monetary policy at this time. If we are to learn from this experience we need to come clean on all the contributors to this economic crisis.

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