There's probably no institution in American life that has more effect on how you
live, but that we talk about less than the Federal Reserve. People don't care to talk about the Federal Reserve because it seems very complex and a lot of what it does is in fact complex. Unless you have a grounding in monetary policy, it's hard to know exactly what's going on. But the basics aren't that complicated, actually, and here are a few of them.
The Federal Reserve was created way back in 1913 by an act of Congress, and it had really two main goals: maximize employment and keep prices stable—keep inflation under control. Those are virtuous goals. But it may be a measure of the way that bureaucracies work, that over time the Federal Reserve has actively undermined both of those objectives.
It's the classic story of the fireman turned arsonist or, for that matter, the COVID czar who helped create COVID. Irony of ironies—seems like we read a lot of those lately. In the case of the Federal Reserve, consider something called quantitative easing. That's the main thing the Fed has been doing since the financial crisis of 2008. Every month, the Federal Reserve officials print more than 100 billion new dollars in American currency, and then they inject those dollars into our financial system by buying assets like bonds and securities. This is not a normal thing to do, it's a radical thing to do, and it was supposed to be temporary. It was in response to a crisis.
In medical terms, quantitative easing is like chemotherapy. There are times when it can save your life, but fundamentally it's poison. If you keep taking it, it will kill you. Pretty much everyone agrees on that, and pretty much everyone understands that ultimately, quantitative easing causes horrible inflation, and it's easy to understand why—you don't need to be an expert. The more money you print, the less that money is worth. It's supply and demand. You buy diamonds by the carat, but you buy dirt by the yard. Overabundance decreases value.
So every new dollar you print buys less. If you keep printing them, you wind up devaluing your own currency. That's one thing a responsible government should never do. It may enrich banks in a tiny number of big investors who give to the Democratic Party, but devaluing your currency screws everyone who works and who saves. And that's immoral. Those are exactly the people that a legitimate government ought to be trying to help as its core mission. And yet they're not.
All these years later, quantitative easing continues, they're still doing it. On Wall Street they joke about how it's going to go on forever. They call it QE infinity. It's an incredibly reckless policy and everybody knows it very much, including the people who are getting rich from it.
So for the better part of a year. Fed officials have been promising they're going to stop doing this. They have sworn they will get sober. They have vowed to begin a process called tapering. That means they'll start to gradually slow the money they print. At a Fed meeting in April, officials said they'd start to do this very soon, they would taper, but they never did. They made the same promise throughout the summer, but again they didn't. The binge continued.
This morning, the vice-chairman of the Fed, Richard Clarida, once again insisted that tapering is almost here. We're about to do it. The conditions to begin detox, he said, have all but been met. And yet, as of tonight, the Fed is still partying with your currency like this is the richest country in the world and always will be.
So what are the effects on our country, of this? Well, in the short term, as with vodka, It makes everybody feel pretty good. It's 3:00 a.m., your lips are numb and you can barely see. And yet somehow the breakfast meeting downtown, you've got it in five hours—the one in where you are going to have to give a detailed presentation to your boss seems like no problem at all. You've got this. Except you don't have it at all. Morning always comes, it is always worse than you think. America's quantitative easing hangover is going to be ugly.
Beneath the manufactured euphoria of our top-line economic numbers: Google's killing it, Record profits for Amazon, says CNBC. Beneath all of that garbage, the actual American economy is in trouble and there are many signs of it. Labor markets are tight right now because a lot of Americans have simply dropped out of the labor force. 4.3 million people walked off the job last month. Some of them were forced out by Joe Biden's vaccine mandates. Projections for GDP growth just dropped from six percent to one and a half percent. Small businesses across the country are dying, and maybe most ominous of all. Inflation is here. It's not just a temporary problem caused by COVID disrupted supply chains. It is absolutely real.
WOFL Report: The American economy starting to sizzle once again as it emerges
from the pandemic and workers paychecks are too, with businesses practically begging for help. But there's a flip side to all the raises, and that's inflation. Prices rising at the fastest rate since 2008. Everything from washing machines up almost 30 percent to furniture up 11 percent, and television sets up eight percent.
So it's happening throughout the economy, it's not just washing machines and television sets, consumer electronics, it's everything, including the big things try to buy a house. It's now more expensive to buy a home than it has ever been at any time in American history. The median existing home price last year was $310,000 and is now over $356,000 and a lot more in the zip code you might want to live in. Part of the reason is the cost of building materials. They're completely out of control. Last October, lumber went for about $580 per thousand board feet. As of last week, it was $712. Last August, used cars, which you might need, were selling for an average price of $21,000—this August, a year later, they were almost $28,000. Same car, $7,000 more.
Over the same period, by the way, as you well know, the price of gas jumped a full dollar a gallon and a lot more than that in some places. Been to the grocery lately, the cost of a pound of steak is up by two bucks. A pound of bacon costs over $7 right now. And suddenly everything costs more. Eggs, milk, coffee, mustard, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. These are not luxury items. This is not a trip to St. Bart’s. These are things you buy every week and you have to buy. The question is, are your wages rising as fast as your costs? Well, let's see. Vegetable oil is up 60%, so probably not. And that means you're getting poorer, whether you realize it or not. But that's what inflation does. It causes poverty.
So because we can prove that the population of the United States is getting poorer by the day, you'd think the Biden administration would be actively concerned about this and working to make it better. But they're doing the opposite. They're actively making it much worse. And here's how they're doing it—by spending.
No government in the history of the world has ever spent more money than Joe Biden is spending right now. That is a fact. In fiscal year 2019, just the other day, the entire federal government spent $6.6 trillion. Then COVID hit, the following year, those numbers went up. They went up by 40%. Federal spending in 2020 jumped to $9.1 trillion. Was that too much? Of course, it was. What do we get for it? Not enough. But here's the shocking thing. Under Joe Biden, as COVID recedes, it's going up even higher because they're no longer using COVID as a pretext.
Through the end of this August, which is to say a month and a half ago, the federal government has already spent more in 2021 than it did over the entire calendar years of 2019 and 2018. So all of this drives inflation to scary levels, but they're not scary to everyone.
If you're a massively leveraged financial institution that owes a lot of money to a lot of people, and that's how you're making your money, this is not necessarily bad news. If money is worth less, that means that your debt service costs less. You don't fear inflation. Inflation helps you. The problem is it crushes the American middle class.
Now, in a normal country, this would be a huge concern. But because the people who make our policy don't care about the middle class, this is a bargain well worth making. Bloomberg News just published a piece with this headline, which we're not making up. They're celebrating the disaster, "America needs higher, longer lasting inflation." If you can even imagine writing something like this, does America need more emphysema to its grotesque? Now, most people may not know this is happening now, normal people don't read Bloomberg News, they may be unaware that these attitudes even exist in what they assumed was their country, and the Biden administration would like to keep it that way. Would like to keep the population from finding out what's happening.
So here's the Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. She's the reptile who once ran the Federal Reserve and is therefore, more responsible than any single living person for your growing poverty. Here she is, assuring you that $7 bacon isn't actually a problem. That's not really inflation. It's something called transitory inflation.
Janet Yellen, June: I don't believe that we're at risk of hyperinflation. We have had several months of high inflation that most economists, including me, believe will be transitory as our economy gets back in full swing after the pandemic.
It's just transitory, it's the price of progress, $7, bacon. Yeah, but look what you're getting in return. Aren't things great?
Until just a few hours ago, that was the official line in Washington, along with those Southwest delays were caused by weather and our withdrawal from Afghanistan was actually a huge success. What are you talking about? That's what they were telling us.
And then the president of the Atlanta Fed, a man called Raphael Bostic, admitted what was very obvious to anyone who goes to the grocery store. This actually is inflation. It is real inflation. It is not transitory inflation, and it's going to be here for a long time.
What he didn't say was that this is not an act of God. This isn't a hurricane. It's not an earthquake. It's not something we can't control. This is the result of decades of policy that have enriched a few and impoverished the many. When will the reckoning be for that? And what are the effects for you going forward?
This article is adapted from Tucker Carlson's opening commentary on the October 12, 2021 edition of "Tucker Carlson Tonight."