January 10th, 2014
02:21 PM ET

What I'm reading: Do central bankers need economic rehab?

By Fareed Zakaria

“In the summer, both the Fed and the People’s Bank of China signaled their intention to normalize monetary policy,” writes Niall Ferguson for Project Syndicate. “Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke talked openly of ‘tapering’ the Fed’s policy of open-ended bond purchases, also known as quantitative easing (QE). PBOC Governor Zhou Xiaochuan actually did try to rein in his country’s runaway credit growth. But when markets in both countries reacted more violently than expected – with bond yields soaring in the United States and inter-bank lending rates spiking in China – the monetary authorities backed off.”

“It is a problem many a pop singer has encountered: After years of stimulus, rehab is just not that easy.”

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“In 1970, when 11 percent of adult Americans had bachelor's degrees or more, degree holders were viewed as the nation's best and brightest,” write Richard Vedder and Christopher Denhart in the Wall Street Journal. “Today, with over 30 percent with degrees, a significant portion of college graduates are similar to the average American – not demonstrably smarter or more disciplined. Declining academic standards and grade inflation add to employers' perceptions that college degrees say little about job readiness.”

“There are exceptions. Applications to top universities are booming, as employers recognize these graduates will become our society's future innovators and leaders. The earnings differential between bachelor's and master's degree holders has grown in recent years, as those holding graduate degrees are perceived to be sharper and more responsible. But unless colleges plan to offer master's degrees in janitorial studies, they will have to change.”

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“To really reckon with something, it has to be named, called out, described – as the President has done with the plague of gun violence or obstacles to gay marriage,” argues Jeff Shesol in the New Yorker. “This is not to suggest that Obama, in his upcoming State of the Union address, should ask Congress for a renewal of hostilities with poverty, fifty years after Lyndon Johnson declared war. But it might be time for him to summon a little of Johnson’s indignation. Americans knew, listening to L.B.J., that he took almost personal offense at the existence of poverty; it was an affront to his sense of self, and, by implication, to ours as a nation. If President Obama sees it that way, let him say so, and plainly.”


soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. JAL

    A world of vibrant economies is not a lawless world. Confidence in education comes from confidence in the economy.

    January 10, 2014 at 4:05 pm | Reply
    • JAL

      I don't think the central bank is at fault here. I think there are too many companies waiting, while they collectively sit on trillions of dollars. This December jobs report was a disappointment. I hear that too much optimism is bad, but that is the best way to combat rampant pessimism, in my opinion. Pessimism now, leads to stagnant growth and that may turn the gears of war. Optimism will stop war.

      January 10, 2014 at 4:12 pm | Reply
      • JAL

        More jobs creation is coming. I think that a quick and slight hiring taper is a way to get a business unit confident to keep the growth trend going. it is a feedback mechanism. Patience is key (sorry).

        January 10, 2014 at 5:09 pm |
  2. chrissy

    There sure as he!! needs to be an audit of the Federal Reserve! Too much funny business going on.

    January 10, 2014 at 9:46 pm | Reply

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