The Wall Street Journal.
Review & Outlook
March 15, 2011
'I Can't Eat an iPad'
The Federal Reserve bombs in
The Federal Reserve has been on a media campaign to sell its monetary policy to average Americans, but this hasn't always gone smoothly. Witness last week's visit to
, by New York Fed President William Dudley, who got a street-corner education in the cost of living. Queens, New York
The former Goldman Sachs chief economist gave a speech explaining the economy's progress and the Fed's successes, but come question time the main thing the crowd wanted to know was why they're paying so much more for food and gas. Keep in mind the Fed doesn't think food and gas prices matter to its policy calculations because they aren't part of "core" inflation.
So Mr. Dudley tried to explain that other prices are falling. "Today you can buy an iPad 2 that costs the same as an iPad 1 that is twice as powerful," he said. "You have to look at the prices of all things."
Reuters reports that this "prompted guffaws and widespread murmuring from the audience," with someone quipping, "I can't eat an iPad." Another attendee asked, "When was the last time, sir, that you went grocery shopping?"
Mr. Dudley has been one of the leading proponents of negative real interest rates and quantitative easing, so this common-man razzing is a case of rough justice. If Mr. Dudley were wise, he'd take it to heart and understand that Americans aren't buying the Fed's line that rising commodity prices are no big deal. Unlike banks and hedge funds, they can't borrow at near-zero interest rates, and most of them don't have big stock portfolios. Wall Street and Congress may love the Fed's free-money policy, but Mr. Dudley and Chairman Ben Bernanke ought to worry about losing the confidence of the middle class.