By: C.Jay Engel
Fed Vice Chair and Yellen ally Stanely Fischer announced his unexpected resignation today, citing “personal reasons.” His term as a Fed governor wasn’t to be over until 2020 and his vice chairmanship was to end June of next year.
Fischer was one of the three most important Fed members, the other two being Yellen herself and the New York Fed’s William Dudley. The WSJ reports:
Mr. Fischer came to the Fed in 2014 a luminary in central banking, having taught many leading policy makers during a more-than two decade career as a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology specializing in international economics. His students included European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Mr. Fischer also ran a central bank—the Bank of Israel—from 2005 to 2013, held a senior post at the International Monetary Fund and served as a Citigroup vice chairman.
In terms of the insider status of these central bankers, Mr. Fischer was “Mr. Establishment.” Well educated in the machinations of how to control an economy from the top, Fischer was an expert bureaucrat. On paper, Fischer was among the most qualified in the world to be tasked with impossible role of making us more prosperous by diktat.
In reality, Fischer, to the extent he had a marked influence on central bankers like Draghi, Bernanke, Yellen, and so many others, was a key player in the boom-and-bust system of modern monetary economics. Under his watch, we had two major and devastating recessions— the cause of which was not Fischer’s failure individually, but the inflationary framework that pervades them all.
Fischer was considered to have leaned “hawkish” by the financial press. In the old days of Paul Volcker, a hawk was one wary of dangers of rising inflation. This was juxtaposed to a dove, who would downplay the dangers of inflation and advise greater monetary expansion. But in the post-crisis era of the so-called “new normal,” where interest rates are to remain absurdly low and inflation must be targeted at 2%, the hawks have long gone extinct. Fischer was no hawk, he was a cheerleader of the quadrupling of the Fed’s balance sheet, an advocate of unprecedented credit creation, and a hater of sound money.
It remains to be seen where Fischer will go next. But his undying advocacy of the use of central banking to tinker with and manage the economy will live on.