The causes and consequences of a falling dollar

Timber!

QE3 remains in dry dock for now but the dollar is still shipping water. Last week the dollar tumbled to its lowest level since July 2008 against a basket of five major currencies on speculation that Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, plans to hold interest rates to the historic lows of 0-0.25%, where they have been since 2008.

Bernanke’s dollar printing is based on the thinking that “price stability should be a key objective of monetary policy”. If the price level falls, deflation, debtors see the real value of their debts increase and have to devote a greater portion of their wealth to paying them off. Likewise, it is believed, consumers seeing falling prices may hold off on purchases in expectation of even lower prices in the future. Both forces will act to decrease spending and kick the economy into a downward spiral. Following Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz’ prescription for the Depression, Bernanke sees the Fed as having to pump as much money as it takes into a failing economy to keep prices stable.

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