Episode

2/16 The Fed Broke The Economy w/ Christopher Leonard

February 16, 2022

Sam hosts investigative journalist Christopher Leonard to discuss his recent book The Lords of Easy Money: How the Federal Reserve Broke the American Economy, on how the lessons that the US Government took from the 2008 financial crash led to a decade of an asset boom on Wall Street alongside wage stagnation for workers, and the role the COVID-19 pandemic played at the end of it. They begin by essentially situating what the Federal Reserve is and does, and what changed with the Great Recession in 2008, looking to the Feds creation in 1913 to manage our currency, and the Congressional acts of 1978 that dialed down their focus to specifically a mandate of managing inflation and employment, before diving into how the institution effectively printed 3.5x the money from 2008-2014 that they had printed in the near-century before that. Sam and Christopher then look to the relationship between these two mandates, with a generally inverse relationship between their respective solutions and issues, the differences between democratic fiscal policy and unilateral monetary policy solutions, and how the US has recently seen a complete paralysis of fiscal policy during a multi-decade run of Congressional inaction. Thus, Christopher arrives at how the Federal Reserve was left out as the only problem-solving actor in the shadow of the 2008 financial crisis, setting the stage for the revelation for Wall Street that was quantitative easing, in which the Fed effectively funneled billions of dollars into Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan as primary lenders, reducing debt, pushing the interest rate to zero, and forcing the need for riskier investments. Diving into the difference between assets, which hold their value, and material goods, Sam and Christopher dive into how this tactic worked to bump up risky lending practices, pushing for a hyper-trickle down tactic of forcing up asset prices, and effectively bolstering a separate economic boom for the exclusively-wealthy, while continued wage stagnation saw the regular economy falter and forced high-risk investments saw elites trade away job growth for the working class with no accountability for their mistakes. They wrap up the interview by looking to the CARES Act as the US Government finally coming back around on fiscal policy, despite it quite literally being what saved us from the Great Depression, and why, in spite of this, our commitment to hyper-efficient supply lines, logistics, and monopolies meant the fiscal policy would not also see the necessary systemic changes that have been lagging for 15 years. Sam and Emma also dive into Professor Jonathan Turley’s revelation on Fox News that if MLK had been treated like conservative protesters are, he might have been arrested, potentially even multiple times, some of which maybe would’ve resulted in quintessential civil rights texts that are read across the country.

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