Commence the farce!
Actually, the farce commenced more than two years ago on all fronts, but as we suggested on Friday, Donald Trump’s unequivocally ridiculous move to nominate Stephen Moore for a seat on the Fed has a solid claim on a spot in anyone’s top five list of the silliest decisions to emanate from this administration.
Moore, you’re reminded, is not an economist. He just plays one on TV. Unfortunately, he’s often referred to as “an economist” by some conservatives and, inexcusably, by the handful of dubious outlets shameless enough to run his columns (e.g., The Washington Times and IBD). But he is most assuredly not one and he isn’t taken seriously by anyone who is, which means that when Trump referred to Stephen as “a very respected economist” on Twitter last week, the president was wrong on both accounts.
Despite surely knowing that he has absolutely no business being anywhere near the Fed, Moore is going to go ahead and make a run at this and in a new interview with The New York Times, published on Tuesday, he’s already calling for a 50bps rate cut.
And yes, I am deadly serious.
“Moore said Tuesday that he regretted his remarks about Powell, but defended his view that the Fed was wrong to raise interest rates in September and December”, the Times writes, adding that “he said the Fed should immediately reverse course and cut rates by half a percentage point.”
Just like Trump never imagined he would win the presidency – and thus felt like he could say whatever he wanted on the campaign trail because he would never be called upon to make good on his promises or otherwise explain how his bombast was in any way consistent with democratic norms – Moore probably never imagined he’d actually be in a position where he would have to answer directly to Jerome Powell for comments like these, delivered in his dubious IBD column “Fire The Fed’s Powell”:
In one of the most remarkable Abbott and Costello routines in modern times, the economic wizards at the Fed again raised interest rates the week before Christmas. Their crackerjack logic for doing so is to steer America on a course toward recession so they have the tools in hand to end the recession that they themselves created.
Now, at the very moment in time when we finally have a president who is slashing tax rates and regulations and is making America a much more business-friendly nation, the Fed’s monetary policy has come unhinged.
Cockpit warnings have been sounding for months, not only from the markets but also from Trump and many other growth economists. We are now suffering the financial ramifications of this “pilot error” on the part of Powell.
Time for a new pilot at the Fed.
What say you now, Stephen? And by “now”, we mean what does Moore have to say now that he may actually find himself having to expound on the relative merits of his commodities-targeting approach in front of Powell and a group of highly respected economists? And what will Moore say if Powell and his colleagues ask, point blank, whether it is still Stephen’s opinion that the Fed chair should be “fired”, in a possible contravention of the law?
Here’s what Moore told the Times in a futile effort to explain himself:
I was really angry about the December increase.. I was furious — and Trump was furious too. I just thought that the December rate increase was inexplicable.
I said these things that I do regret saying, because I think Powell’s doing the best job that he can. Do I regret the rhetoric that I used? Yes.
Yes, Moore really “regrets” that.
And the reason he regrets it is because now, Stephen isn’t just an unaccountable sock puppet throwing tomatoes from the cheap seats. Now, Moore may find himself having to look Powell – a man who is worth $110 million and whose resume is so mind-bogglingly impressive that it’s hard to believe it’s even real – in the eyes and tell him all about how unpatriotic the December rate hike was.
Believe it or not, that would be the easy part for Stephen. Because Powell isn’t an economist either.
The hard part will be when Moore has to participate in actual policy discussions with real-life PhDs whose work has contributed to the advancement of the field of economics. You know, people whose entire lives have been spent steeped in the most esoteric debates imaginable, while Stephen was busy writing zingers like this one, from a Washington Times column:
Mr. Trump is like Mohammad Ali playing rope-a-dope while George Foreman (the media) is flailing away and punching himself out.
Yep – Stephen is in way over his head and as noted above, he surely knows it.
But Stephen is going to insist, against all odds, that he can make this work. In fact, in the same breath that he was telling the Times how sorry he is for saying Powell should be fired, he said this:
Was I right? Yes.
No, you weren’t, Stephen. Or actually, yes, you were. But only by accident, which is the only way morons can ever be right.
But nobody should worry, because outward appearances aside, he’s not a “sycophant.” You can’t judge this book by its cover. Here’s Moore to Stephen-‘splain:
Do the president and I think a lot alike on a lot of things? Absolutely. That’s one of the reasons he picked me to be an economic adviser and be on the Fed, because we share a lot of the same economic philosophy. I don’t think anybody can reasonably say I am a sycophant for Trump, because I’m not.
So, let me see if I’ve got this right. Stephen and Trump think “a lot alike on a lot of things” and one of those “things” just happens to be that the Fed should purposefully slip on a banana peel on the way to sliding down the slippery slope to pro-cyclical monetary policy in order to bolster Trump’s banana republic-esque economic vision. And, according to Moore’s own account, “that’s one of the reasons” Trump picked him to be on the Fed.
But considering Moore has zero other credentials that would make him a logical choice for the Fed, the fact that he agrees with Trump on what the Fed should do is by definition the only reason he was chosen.
All of that, combined with Moore’s comically obsequious Op-Eds, would appear to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he is in fact a sycophant.
But if you ask Stephen, not only is that not the case, nobody can even “reasonably say that”. And the reason nobody can reasonably say he’s a sycophant is “because he’s not.”
Got that? Great. Because that’s the same kind of rock-solid “logic” he’ll be bringing to the Fed board if he’s confirmed.