On this edition of Parallax Views, New York Times bestselling author and investigative journalist Christopher Leonard joins us to discuss his new book The Lords of Easy Money: How the Federal Reserve Broke the American Economy. The book chronicles how the Federal Reserve under Ben Bernanke dealt with the 2008 Global Financial Crisis and its aftermath from 2010-2014. In doing so he attempts to offer a concise and highly critical examination of the policy known as quantitative easing and makes the case that quantitative easing has enriched the wealthy at the expense of the working and middle classes through a form of hyper-trickle-down economics.
Leonard and I begin the conversation by discussing his earlier works The Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America’s Food Business and Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America. We then discuss how his critical examination of the Federal Reserve departs from many of the criticisms of the Fed from libertarians and the right such as G. Edward Griffin’s The Creature from Jekyll Island. Leonard also praises William Greider’s seminal work on the subject Secrets of the Temple.
From there we delve into what the Federal Reserve is, what it isn’t, and the question of whether it is a public or private institution as well as the ways the Fed, and monetary policy in general, is often treated as being too mystical for a layperson to understand (even if this is not the case). Leonard also explains the concept of quantitative easing and how it has, he argues, enriched the wealthy at the expense of the working and middle classes. Among the many other topics, we cover in the conversation: the Federal Reserve and the Tea Party Movement in November 2010, the story of former President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Thomas Hoenig’s dissenting from Ben Bernanke’s quantitative easing policies, Alan Greenspan and ideology within the institution of the Federal Reserve, the populist William Jennings Bryan and his “Cross of Gold” speech, Bill Clinton and the declaration he made during his Presidency that “the era of big government is over”, hyper-trickle-down economics, Andrew Mellon, and much, much more!