Audit the Fed on End the Fed Weekend? Bah
It is only appropriate that End the Fed weekend be filled with talk of Audit the Fed, I'm glad to see everyone keeping up with this one. Why? Because I want to bitch about it, probably, but we can get to that later.
It's been a busy weekend for Audit the Fed, and perhaps attempting to neuter it was the best PR stunt the pro-audit movement could have gotten. Thanks, asshole.
Crooks and Liars
NewsBusters (don't go there if my conservative streak offends you. whatever)
Zero Hedge (it's not really "audit the Fed" exactly but saying "they're printing a shit ton of money" is pretty much an argument for said audit)
Gates of Vienna
Did I miss any? Let me know, I can't watch everything all the time, you know.
Best of all, The Atlantic actually read the bill. Now I don't know about you but I do a lot of this from my BlackBerry. Google alerts, subscriptions, flipping through my blogroll; there isn't a thing I can't do on that fucking device. But sitting down and reading through any of those things, on a BlackBerry or not, will rot your brain. It isn't like Congress does it, so the media isn't necessarily expected to either. Are we?
Anyway. The Atlantic:
Yesterday, another interesting amendment (.pdf) to the House's financial regulation bill made it through committee. It would require an audit of the Federal Reserve. The amendment offered by Rep. Mevlin Watt (D-NC) has the spirit of a bill written up by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) calling for a similar end. Paul has been an outspoken critic of the Fed and offered a companion amendment (.pdf), along with Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), broadening the audit. It also passed. Some people are worried that the amendments could endanger the independence of the Fed. I think that's an exaggeration.
For starters, I think it's important to look at what these amendments actually say. They really just seek to provide Congress a better understanding of what's going on at the Fed. They basically give politicians the ability to determine whether the Fed is following its own policies and procedures. Essentially, Congress wants to be sure that the Fed is running a tight ship.
What they don't do is allow the auditor or members of Congress to question the Fed's monetary policy decisions. In fact they explicitly say that the auditor can't make recommendations about Fed loans or liquidity facilities. They don't even require knowing everything said by Fed officials. One section of Paul and Grayson's companion amendment reads:
Audits of the Federal Reserve Board and Federal reserve banks shall not include unreleased transcripts or minutes of meetings of the Board of Governors or of the Federal Open Market Committee.
They aren't looking to give Congress the power to micromanage the Fed.
Go read what else they aren't trying to do.
The way I see it, the Fed is getting neutered as we speak. Timmy is trying to take away their regulatory muscle (*LOL*), Barney Frank is all up in their regional structure and Ron Paul refuses to crawl out from the deepest depths of their asses. None of that can be much fun.
Months or weeks ago (I'm not keeping track anymore, sorry), I said leave the Fed alone and argued that it would be far more effective to sit back and let them shoot themselves in the foot than waste precious effort trying to dismantle them. Look. They still don't have the slightest idea how they are going to back out of where they have found themselves and now everyone is pissed off at them, not just the unwashed masses who still don't care too much. Every day, that particular nut vice tightens just a notch. And tomorrow another notch, depending on how many people are in downtown San Francisco when a bunch of ETF protesters come stomping by.
How does that feel?
I am still of the opinion that it's more fun to sit back and watch (while pointing, of course) than to participate. But that doesn't mean participating isn't entertaining in and of itself.
We're going to sink anyway, might as well get our circus out of it.