Update: Ron Paul, Head of the House Financial Services Committee Wants to End Federal Reserve and Calls Ben Bernanke Delusional

publication date: Oct 21, 2011

Update October 21, 2011: It's old news that Congressman Ron Paul is running for President. I haven't changed my negative view of his economic insights and abilities (see article below I wrote back in February, 2011 in which I explained why I didn't think he was qualified for his new position as Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. His predecessor Barney Frank certainly wasn't qualified either.)

Paul has added to his department of dumb ideas. During a recent Las Vegas speech, ahead of the most recent Republican Presidential debate, Paul suggested that the President of the United States should be paid less - a lot less than the current pay rate of $400,000 for a job that is among the most important and stressful in the world! Specifically, Paul has called for the President to only be paid $39,336 per year, which is the approximate median earned by American workers.

It's funny that before Paul made this suggestion, I argued that we needed to significantly increase the President's pay in order to attract more and better candidates.

Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) has taken over as Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. He replaced the often colorful and financially clueless Barney Frank (D-MA). Based upon the early returns, Paul, a hard core Libertarian, is going to give Frank a run for his money in the colorful and clueless departments.

Paul's recent attacks on the Federal Reserve and its Chairman Ben Bernanke are all over the financial press and a bit unsettling to some investors. Paul would be happy to abolish the Federal Reserve and has no use for Bernanke, who Paul has repeatedly called delusional in recent media interviews. This should be of concern to all investors and Americans because the Federal Reserve plays an important if not sometimes controversial role on the U.S. economy and financial markets. In this article, I summarize some recent interviews Paul has done with the financial media (on CNBC and Yahoo Finance) and discuss concerns and likely implications for you and your money.

Recent Paul Financial Interviews

In a CNBC interview with Larry Kudlow, who hosts a conservative opinion program, Kudlow introduced the segment by asking if Paul could put an end to the economic damage being done by Ben Bernanke's inflationary policies. Paul said the following:

  • There was no need for the Fed's second round of Quantitative Easing (QE).
  • There's no need for the Federal Reserve to exist. The Federal Reserve should butt out of getting involved with the economy since they are the source of so much of our economic problems (bubbles, recession, etc.) The Fed gets undeserved credit for good economic times but doesn't deserve any credit and instead should get blamed for the inflation that's coming.
  • It's a worldwide concern that we could have a run on the dollar which would bring down our empire similar to what happened to Russia.
  • Bernanke is delusional to think that he as one person can control the economy through the money supply, interest rates, etc.

In an interview with Yahoo Finance, Paul made the following comments:

  • The Fed's second round of QE has been a total failure. All it has done has been to maintain jobs on Wall Street and has done nothing for Main Street in terms of creating jobs or helping the economy.
  • We have yet to see the inevitable negative affects of QE, which will be high inflation, because those will emerge further down the road.
  • Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is over confident about his ability to unwind QE and the excess money pumped into the money supply.
  • The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is "rigged" and ignores food and energy costs. The CPI numbers are "fudged" by the government so that Bernanke doesn't have to change what he's doing.
  • Commodity prices and food prices are skyrocketing but Bernanke doesn't talk about that.

My Analysis

Like his predecessor, Congressman Barney Frank, Congressman Ron Paul is, in my humble opinion, unqualified for his position as Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. Paul, age 75, is a long-term politician, whose training and previous career was as a physician! He believes in the Austrian school of economic thinking which among other things advocates a gold standard and no government involvement in the economy and banking functions. The discredited Peter Schiff also believes in this school of thinking.

While I believe in free speech and speaking out, I don't see much good coming from Paul's extreme statements. Those who are as economically ignorant as he is believe some of his nonsense and this undermines faith in the Federal Reserve and the role that it plays. My previous articles on the Federal Reserve and Ben Bernanke outline the institution's role and Bernanke's qualifications for his job.

Contrary to Paul's assertions, Bernanke is hardly a one-man band. The Fed's Board of Governors includes 12 voting members and each of those Fed districts employs many experts and researchers as support.

As for inflationary concerns, and the Fed only examining the so-called core CPI which excludes food and energy costs, Paul is again way, way off base. The Fed examines many inflationary measures. The CPI for all items including food and energy is up less than 2 percent over the past year. The same is true for food prices so Paul is wrong there as well (see graphs below).

FRED Graph

FRED Graph

When Ron Paul ran for President in 2008, he quickly fell by the wayside in large part due to his extreme views on selected issues. He is a bit of a crackpot. I support his idea of doing a thorough review of the Federal Reserve and what they do. Something good could and should come out of that. But abolishing the Fed and believing in Paul's other nutty assertions won't help economically. Given his new committee Chair position, Paul needs to get better educated on the economy and financial markets and should think and edit his thoughts more before speaking. Otherwise, he could contribute to unsettled financial markets and investors.

It's becoming more popular and fashionable among politicians and pundits to bash the Fed. This will likely fade away as the economy and markets continue improving.



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Eric Tyson is the only best-selling personal finance author who has an extensive background as an hourly-based financial advisor and who does not accept speaking fees, endorsement deals or fees of any type from companies in the financial services industry or product or service providers recommended in his articles, books and his publications.