From 2008 To The SVB Bailout, New Documentary Traces The Fed’s Same Old Recklessness
The irony was palpable. An interview with a Federal Reserve Bank official from last fall, claiming that “we’re a long, long way from any kind of disruption” to the financial system — followed in short order by television clips showing the failure of Silicon Valley Bank.
But as “Age of Easy Money” shows, the recent bailout of Silicon Valley Bank represents only the latest example of the Fed disrupting the economy and banking system — almost always with long-term consequences. The two-hour documentary, an episode of the PBS series “Frontline,” was more than two years in the making. Some of the interviews aired as part of an earlier one-hour “Frontline” program broadcast in July 2021.
For a program so long in production, its airdate proved auspicious. The events of recent days have brought into renewed focus the way in which the Federal Reserve has distorted financial markets with interventionist policies and how unwinding those policies will not come quickly — or easily.
An Unaccountable Institution
Several themes stand out in “Age of Easy Money,” beginning with the fact that the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented actions in recent years came to an institution that lacks direct accountability. With the exception of the infamous TARP bailout vote in 2008, the rescue attempts made during the financial crisis, the quantitative easing programs that effectively saw the central bank printing new money, the emergency measures during the Covid-19 lockdowns, and the bailout declaration for depositors in Silicon Valley Bank — none of these decisions were voted on by Congress.
In many ways, the Fed’s actions were not just undemocratic but anti-democratic. The special notes that the Fed announced its second round of quantitative easing measures the day after Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives in the November 2010 midterm elections.
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