For years, the signs were everywhere for those who could see it. Governments aren’t prepared to deal with systemic crises, and when the Federal Reserve pumped massive amounts of liquidity into the banking system – first in 2008-2009 and then again in 2020 – this was a short-term fix that was bound to have long-term consequences.
No matter how you slice it, all roads lead to policy errors. The government will blame COVID-19 and geopolitical turmoil for the slow-motion economic collapse we’re witnessing in 2022, but it’s years of mismanagement that has actually brought us to this point.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an unprecedented ramp-up in the Fed’s program of buying bonds and mortgage-backed securities – billions of dollars were purchased each month, even after the lockdowns ended in the U.S. On top of that, the Fed suppressed bond yields, to the point where real yields were negative.
Clearly, Fed Chair Jerome Powell wasn’t ready to disturb Wall Street and allow equity prices to go down. However, what’s good for Wall Street isn’t necessarily good for Main Street and hardworking Americans. The government will tout a seemingly low unemployment rate, but layoffs and hiring freezes are on the rise at companies ranging from Wells Fargo to Robinhood and Meta/Facebook.
Among the people who haven’t been laid off yet, many of them are struggling just to get by and worried that their job positions will be lost to automation and outsourcing. At the same time, there’s a shortage of skilled labor along crucial areas of the supply chain, as well as in critical-need areas like healthcare and education.