As you’re no doubt aware, the Fed is fond of using the research departments at its various branches to validate policy and analyze away bad economic outcomes. For instance, earlier this year, the San Francisco Fed came up with an academic justification for the now infamous double seasonally adjusted GDP print - they call it "residual seasonality." Then there’s the NY Fed, where researchers recently took to the bank’s blog to explain why, despite all evidence to the contrary, Treasury liquidity is "fairly favorable."
Be that as it may, someone will occasionally say something really inconvenient - like when, back in April, the St. Louis Fed warned that the American Middle Class was "under more pressure than you think," a situation the bank blamed on the diverging fortunes (literally) of the haves and the have nots in the post-crisis world. The implication - made clear in the accompanying graphics - was that QE was effectively eliminating the Middle Class.
Now, the very same St. Louis Fed (this time in the form of a white paper by the bank’s vice president Stephen D. Williamson), is out questioning the efficacy of QE when it comes to stoking inflation and boosting economic activity.
Williamson says the theory behind QE is "not well-developed", and calls the evidence in support of Ben Bernanke’s views on the transmission mechanisms whereby asset purchases affect outcomes "mixed at best."
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