Inflation vs. Depression

The Federal Reserve has a choice to make, whether it knows it or not.  The choice is inflation or depression.  There is no in between.  The government has created this situation with all of its horrible economic policies.  Bush gave us two wars while continuing to increase domestic spending.  Greenspan helped with creating money out of thin air.  Before Bush left office, he bailed out the car companies and did a massive bailout of the banks.

Obama has continued these policies.  He continued the bailouts and signed a massive "stimulus" package right after taking office.  The federal deficits are huge and the overall debt to GDP is nearing 100%.

There was a lot of malinvestment prior to 2008.  Interest rates were kept artificially low by the Fed and the government spent like crazy.  It caused bubbles in our economy and misallocated resources.  When Bernanke took over at the Fed, he actually stabilized the money supply.  This exposed all of the bad investments and it drove the economy into recession.  This is what needed to be done.  If Bernanke had continued to create new money, it only would have made the problem worse in the future.

Unfortunately, Bernanke and the Fed did not keep this stance for long.  When the fall of 2008 came, the Fed more than doubled the adjusted monetary base.  Most of this new money went to the banks and the banks kept it as excess reserves.  This is why we haven't seen significant price inflation.

Instead of letting all of the bad investments get cleansed out, the government tried to prop things up with more spending, more bailouts, more money creation, and more debt.  This has only caused more bad investments and a severe misallocation of resources.  At this point, the economy needs to cleanse itself in the form of a severe recession.  This is what the government should let happen.  It will be tough medicine, but it is the right cure.

More likely, the government will continue to spend and create money out of thin air.  If and when the economy shows another recession (did the first one ever end?), the Fed will most likely choose the wrong path of more inflation.  This will make things worse still.  It would be wise to prepare for massive inflation in the next several years.

It is unlikely that we will see hyperinflation.  We probably won't see price inflation of 100% per year.  We could easily see price inflation of 20% per year.  The future is unpredictable and you never know what will happen, but it is unlikely that the Fed will go to hyperinflation because they will destroy themselves and the banks in the process.  The most likely scenario is high inflation, followed by a severe recession or depression (call it what you want).  It might play out like the 1970's and early 80's, but more severe.

Just remember, the damage has already been done.  There are bad investments that need to be liquidated.  There needs to be a shifting of resources and we need people to save and invest, which is the basis of growth.  The government should allow this to take place.  It will probably do a lot more damage before it does.