Maybe we should pay attention to the man behind the curtain.
Likening the great and powerful Fed to “Oz, the Great and Powerful,” El-Erian compares the limited tools yet expansive creativity Bernanke & Co. employ to that of the humble wizard. In the just-released movie, Oz is able to rally the denizens of the dreamscape to defeat two evil witches (with the acknowledgment that they remain dangerous and will likely one day return).
“In today’s economy, the role of the wizard is being played by the Federal Reserve Bank,” El-Erian writes in a blog posted to The Exchange. “Facing a difficult economic situation, made worse by the inaction of a bickering Congress and essentially paralyzed government agencies, the Fed has found itself forced to take on the role of savior. And since its massive emergency interventions in 2008, it has felt a moral obligation to stay engaged, a role which, over time, it seems to have pursued more willingly.”
In trying to do good, he continues, the Fed has confronted more than the considerable dark forces of disorderly economic and financial deleveraging. It has also had to overcome the (not-so-occasional) headwinds from a disruptive Congress and a Europe unable to decisively overcome a regional debt crisis, he notes.
“Also, similar to the wizard, the Fed has had limited tools at its disposal. Unable to get to the heart of the economic dislocations and disruptions, it has shrewdly adapted imperfect tools that have been only known to work in more controlled environments. Their success depends on getting the collective to believe.”
El-Erian rhetorically asks: how do we click our heels for a happy ending?