The Federal Reserve's effort to boost the economy with quantitative easing (QE) has failed, says Harvard economist Martin Feldstein.
"[T]he evidence suggests that the program has done little to raise economic growth while saddling the Fed with an enormous balance sheet," he writes in The Wall Street Journal.
The central bank has added more than $2 trillion to its balance sheet since 2007.
QE is supposed to help the economy by lifting stock prices, says Feldstein, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Reagan. The idea is that those higher share prices lead to greater household wealth, which then sparks increased consumer spending.
Despite the Fed's action, "the economy is limping along with per capita gross domestic product rising at less than 1 percent a year," Feldstein says.
"Even if all of the rise in the value of household equities since quantitative easing began could be attributed to the Fed policy, the implied increase in consumer spending would be quite small," he adds.
"At best, the Fed's long-term asset purchases reduced the extent to which the federal deficits crowded out equity purchases," Feldstein suggests.
"Although it is impossible to know what would happen without the central bank's asset purchases, the data imply that very little increase in [gross domestic product] can be attributed" to the Fed's effort to juice stock prices.
"The time has come for the Fed to recognize that it cannot stimulate growth and that a stronger recovery must depend on fiscal actions and tax reform by the White House and Congress," Feldstein writes.
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