I am still occupied with my day job and haven’t had a lot of time for my preferred intellectual pursuits. To tie up some loose ends, here’s some of what I’ve been working on.

Banking Committee Project:

The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs had its beginnings at the charter of the 2nd Bank of the United States. It was dormant from 1836 at the expiration of the charter until 1862 and reconstituted as the Banking Committee to oversee the issuance and management of green backs, and has been active ever since.

I’ve written some about its current chairman, Tim Johnson here . His Director of Economic Development is Matthew D. Varilek. Mr. Varilek ran for South Dakota’s only seat in the House last year, and here is what his official bio says about his education:

Varilek received a bachelor’s degree in from Carleton College in Minnesota, a master’s degree in economic development from the University of Glasgow in Scotland, and a master’s degree in environment and development from Cambridge University.

There is no mention of his undergraduate course of study, but this attack ad says his degree is in environmental studies.

He appears to be splitting his time between the Senator’s office and the Small Business Administration where is a liaison to small business associations. He had been full time for the Senator until his unsuccessful bid for Congress.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately for Mr. Varilek, because he has political aspirations of his own, there is reams of publicly accessible information about him with most of it not particularly useful. And for now, I must refrain from drawing conclusions from what little bit of information I have; although, it doesn’t seem appropriate for someone with his background to be advising on monetary policy. I could be wrong, but perhaps it’s fitting that he would pass the quarterly report from BIS to the Chairman as if it meant something important without really understanding what it says.

On a personal note, I am having trouble understanding why the Banking Committee Chairman would, as it seems to me, place environmental concerns over monetary policy, or purely banking matters over monetary policy. Ignoring it is like building a house on sand.

So my question as a deeply concerned citizen is: Who in government knows what is going on with monetary policy? Who is watching the ‘store?’ I fear the answer to both questions is no one; and it really is no wonder Bernanke and crew were able to twist Humphrey-Hawkins into something it isn’t and leave it that way.

Not to lay blame on Mr. Johnson, he’s only been around since the retirement of Senator Dodd. Somewhere, someone stopped watching the Fed; and it seems to be a reasonable assumption that Mr. Johnson is simply carrying on tradition – go along not paying attention and then demand taper, fitting right in with the Keystone Kops policy development process going on at the Fed with his environmental adviser doubling as an economist. If this matter weren’t so serious in consequence, it would be absolutely hilarious.

 

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