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Yellen's Denials About Inflation Will Curb Fed's Independence

For example, although banks don't directly make private-equity plays, they are financing those at alarming levels through questionable lending.

Instead of restoring Glass-Steagall -- a law enacted in the 1930s that separated commercial and investment banking activities -- and breaking up the biggest banks to a scale not too big to fail, Bernanke and Geithner supported legislation to expand their regulatory empires with Dodd-Frank's costly regulations.

Compliance costs are a big reason why ordinary folks are losing free checking and paying generally higher service fees.

Now, Yellen is ignoring the Fed mandate to ensure price stability. She has embraced the notion that if she induces enough inflation -- in Fed parlance at least 2% per year, the economy will grow more robustly. That view has lots of support among politically liberal economists who offer little credible evidence.

Letting inflation fly and fibbing about it seems to be Yellen's imprint on Fed policy, but it will likely impose devastating costs on ordinary Americans.

Labor markets are tight for specialized technical personnel, such as those in the medical, oil and gas, advanced manufacturing and technology sectors, but most Americans can't get a decent raise because few seem to be able to leave their present employer for better pay elsewhere.

Boosting inflation to chase growth by printing money to keep interest rates low will make bankers and private-equity firms happy (and they donate considerable sums to Democratic candidates), but it will beat the heck out of the finances of ordinary Americans.

If Yellen can't run the Fed responsibly and at least acknowledge the inflation data on her desk, then Congress will put a leash on monetary policy in ways that make future crises a lot worse.

In the days before the Fed was established, the absence of a strong central bank with flexible powers exacerbated crises and made the economy inherently unstable, and that is where Yellen's inaction on inflation could well take us.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

Peter Morici is an economist and professor at the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, and a national columnist.
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