The Sad Irony Of Fed Policy

You don't have to be a populist of either the conservative or liberal persuasion to see the irony in the Federal Reserve's raising rates to curb growth just as the working stiff is getting a better paycheck after 20 years of stagnation. Executives--and others with stocks and options--have being doing splendidly in this economic expansion. Now, with labor markets tightening and wages rising, a 3% wage gain is perceived as an inflation threat. How sad.

Capitalism is supposed to bring higher living standards for everyone. Growth can deliver it, given a chance. Growth can even generate jobs for millions on welfare. Moreover, outside of high tech, real weekly wages for nonsupervisory workers are up only 0.7% in the past two years. High-tech wages are up more, but they are in industries with falling prices.

Perhaps the Fed was right to prick the balloon of the market's "irrational exuberance." But it must not appear to be an enemy of growth or higher living standards. Growth is good, Mr. Greenspan.

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