I think this is a game changer for the Fed. I think it's a return to what we called a few decades ago "go and stop" monetary policy, which is to say, go all-in on a low unemployment target until the actual inflation rate rises enough to alarm the public.As previously mentioned, I'm not sold on the idea that a new round of quantitative easing (QE) by the Fed will have much impact on the US economy. So, in a way, I don't reject Goodfriend's view that QE could involve diminishing returns down the road. However, I disagree with Goodfriend in regard to the inflationary risks that QE poses in future. Here, it may be worth highlighting an important point advanced by Oscar Jorda, Moritz Schularick and Alan Taylor in their paper "When Credit Bites Back: Leverage, Business Cycles and Crises" (2011), which discusses the after-effects of financial crises from a historical perspective:
...[O]ur results speak more directly to the question of whether policy-makers risk unleashing inflationary pressures by keeping interest rates low. Looking back at business cycles in the past 140 years, we show that policy-makers have little to worry about. In the aftermath of credit-fueled expansions that end in a systemic financial crisis, downward pressures on inflation are pronounced and long-lasting. If policy-makers are aware of this typical after-effect of leverage busts, they can set policy without worrying about a phantom inflationary menace. (2011:6)That said, the interview nonetheless contains a lot of valuable insight on the policy implications of QE3 moving forward, as well as the reasons that may have prompted FOMC members to go ahead with another round of QE right now.
Finally, I also think Goodfriend makes a valid point when he suggests that the Fed is not providing sufficient information to the public about both the specific unemployment (or any other labor market indicator) target for QE3 and the evidence to justify additional QE at this time. That Goodfriend focuses on this last point is not surprising given that he's been a longtime advocate of central bank transparency, a principle that I too find important, although for different reasons. While Goodfriend views transparency as necessary for policy effectiveness, I believe it is a commendable principle for government organizations to follow for reasons of public accountability.
Jorda, O., M. Schularick and A. Taylor, When Credit Bites Back: Leverage, Business Cycles and Crises, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Working Paper, November 2011.