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TheStreet Open House

The Digital Skeptic: The Fed Is Dead

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Maybe Bernanke raises rates. Maybe he cuts rates. Maybe he buys some bonds. Maybe he sells 'em.

Or maybe, just maybe, what Bernanke does means almost nothing at all.

Buckle up, friends, the collapsing digital era seems to have found yet another bloated, information-based organization to send marching down the yellow brick road to oblivion.

This time it's none other than the Federal Reserve Board.

The once-unassailable Fed is beginning to look, feel and act like any one of a number of imploding music, adult entertainment or movie companies. That is: a top-heavy, slow-to-react information-based entity with little role to play in the bare-bones digital economy.

For all the pomp and circumstance of last week's speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke as part of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City's Economic Symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo., little of what this Fed chairman said really mattered. Just listen to Ben himself.

"Monetary policy cannot achieve by itself what a broader and more balanced set of economic policies might achieve," Bernanke said in his speech. "It cannot neutralize the fiscal and financial risks that the country faces."

Welcome to the strange new world of the Fed-Less economy.

Riding with the Fed-less horseman
No question, the Fed plays the role of the even-handed financial House of Windsor, sort of a royal family and Queen Elizabeth II to our economy. Its board of governors still cheerleads, pretends to bring order to chaos and even dishes out punishment to a select few usual suspects. In August, for example, the Fed announced they'd had an "enforcement action" with Valley Financial (VYFC), MetLife (MET), Gold Canyon Bank and many others.

But it does not take a Ph.D. from the London of School of Economics to see this Fed has never been less influential.

Why? These days the U.S. economy it presides over is just another mall in the global economy. The 314 million or so people the U.S. Census Bureau counts as Americans make up just 4.5% of the 7 billion or so souls in the world.

And it's not like we 314 million are knocking the lights out financially.

The Boston Consulting Group, in a report that's simply a must-read for money managers called the Global Wealth 2012, said so-called "old-world wealth" -- that's the U.S., Europe and Japan -- saw its private financial power decline by about 1% last year. "New-world wealth" -- that's Asia, the Near East and South America -- grew by a stunning 10%.

"The global wealth management Industry is at a crossroad of sorts," summed up the report.

That's being polite.

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