Conventional wisdom has it that recessions are a very bad thing, throwing millions out of work and repressing wealth creation. The Great Recession of 2007-09 is often cited as example No. 1.
But this reasoning has it all wrong, says John Tamny, political economy editor for Forbes
. "Recessions are beautiful," he writes.
"Put more plainly, recessions are misnamed. They should be referred to as 'recovery.' They signal recovery whereby the economy is cleansed of all that was holding it down in the first place."
Tamny views recessions as a purging of the bad to let in the good. "Recessions are a sign that Webvan is being starved of capital so that Google can receive it in abundance," he states.
This largely explains why the Federal Reserve's massive easing program is so ineffective, Tamny argues. "The very idea that it would presume to medicate, or neuter that which is so healthy (recession) is a certain sign of how misguided are those who practice 'monetary policy.'"
The Fed has kept its federal funds rate target at a record low of zero to 0.25 percent since December 2008. And its balance sheet has ballooned to $4.5 trillion through quantitative easing.
"Americans surely deserve better than the Fed."
Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers doesn't agree with Tamny. He thinks the Fed should maintain its cautious stance toward raising rates.
"The greater risks are on the side of [economic] slowdown and stagnation, rather than on the side of overheating and inflation," the Harvard professor tells CNBC
That risk of a slowdown was reinforced by the March jobs report, which showed that non-farm payrolls rose only 126,000 last month, the weakest showing since December 2013.
Meanwhile, the personal consumption expenditures price index climbed just 0.3 percent in the 12 months through February, far below the Fed's 2 percent target.
There's no reason for the central bank to increase rates before inflation accelerates, Summers notes. "Pre-emptive wars don't work, and pre-emptive wars on inflation would be a big mistake."
Many Fed officials apparently agree with him. Minutes from the Fed's March policy meeting indicate that most of them want to wait until at least September before lifting rates.
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