Sunday, September 18, 2011

Getting a handle on the scandal

While the White House is taking heat for the failure of one of solar panel company, originally green-flagged for assistance by the Bush administration and constituting 1.3% of the Department of Energy's green-energy investment guarantee portfolio, Governor Rick "Good-Hair" Perry of Texas has shown leadership in forging a path for true believers in Free Enterprise to encourage the development of emerging technologies in the Lone Star state.  Via the conservative Frum Forum:
As Governor, Rick Perry presides over a fund that has doled out over $200m in grants to private firms. While Obama is in trouble because his aides might have begged the Energy Department accelerate lending to one promising solar panel maker, Perry is laughing his boots off.

The Texas Emerging Technology Fund (ETF) is practically Perry’s own, personal multi-million dollar fundraising machine. When it comes to doling out money to private firms he doesn’t have to beg anyone for anything.

The fund, signed into law largely by and for Perry in 2005, is controlled by his office and operates largely in secret. Many states have similar investment programs, but the concentration of power in the Governor’s office under Perry’s program is unique.

Bernanke, inflation...and the GOP Crazies!

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke - a Bush appointee held over by President Obama - has been attacked relentlessly by every Republican presidential aspirant.  Most notable was Rick Perry's calling Bernanke's monetary expansions "treasonous"  for supposedly doing damage to the dollar and for acting politically rather than prudently.  Perry - demonstrating his usual grace and sophistication - talked about "getting ugly" with Bernanke if he set foot in Texas.

Mitt Romney attacked Bernanke for "over-inflating the amount of currency he's created" and Newt Gingrich, in their primary debates, asserted that Bernanke is "the most inflationary, dangerous and power-centered Fed Chairman in history."  The entire GOP field wants Bernanke sacked.

The brief against Bernanke by Governor Good-Hair  and the rest is that the Fed Chairman is stoking inflation by printing money, presumably to help "Obama" get some dollars flowing into the economy to secure re-election.  More sober voices among professional economists who service the right-wing - but are as evidence-challenged in the real world as the GOP pols - simply decry the threat of inflation "inherent" in Bernanke's monetary expansions.

The truth, of course, is that Bernanke's monetary policies are nothing if not prudent.  (Milton Friedman, conservative economics icon, argued that the biggest problem during the Great Depression was tight money. Bernanke's philosophy and policies as Fed Chair are influenced directly by his reading of Friedman.)

Just by the numbers, inflation is a phantom fear in the current economy. The chart below. from David Leonhardt at the New York Times, shows where Fed Chairmen rank in terms of the inflation during their tenure. Bernanke has been overseeing the lowest inflation in 40 years.  The GOP Presidential aspirants are, true to form, making crazy stuff up...