Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bold, Persistent Experimentation

From a CNN article about President Obama's nomination of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to a second term:

President Obama on Tuesday compared Bernanke's efforts to avert a second Great Depression to FDR's "bold, persistent experimentation" to get the country out of the first one.

Lord, save us from bold, persistent experimentation. That meta-policy of FDR's was perhaps the most damaging attempt to undo the Depression (in a crowded field). The future is already unpredictable for plenty of reasons, from the weather to fads to people's animal spirits. But in order to grow, businesses need to plan for the future. Unpredictable government policies only add to their difficulties. When a government announces that it intends to be unpredictable - and there is no other way to read a phrase like "bold, persistent experimentation" - businesses are likely to react like a turtle in a hurricane: stop moving, pull in their legs and hope they're still alive when the storm is over.

Let us hope Obama was merely being rhetorical.

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