The Federal Reserve is acquiring a distinct Obama flavor after the departure of the Bush backyard barbecue smoke from the White House. The Fed Board in Washington has a newly reappointed Bernanke after the White House invested significant political capital in the Fed Chairman on two important issues: interest rate policy and regulatory policy.
The Fed Chairman, as is usual for competent monetary economists on the Fed Board, has done well with interest rate policy after some sluggishness initially in 2007. As to regulatory policy, which is not the bailiwick of macroeconomists, he is fumbling badly being poorly-advised on the matter by the departing Fed Vice Chairman Donald L. Kohn and the inexperienced Bush-appointee Kevin Warsh.
Kevin Warsh serves as the Administrative Governor of the Federal Reserve on an internal committee to administer the affairs of the Board of Governors. Donald Kohn is the other member on that Committee on Board Affairs (CBA). The public debate over the timing of interest rate increases was intense, with both Kohn and Warsh jumping the gun on rate increases. That was a debate Chairman Bernanke had won and the phrases “extremely low” and “extended period” remained in the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) statement.
To me, as an employee at the Fed, with nothing to do directly with the FOMC or any policy issues pertaining to the Fed mandate as a part of my job responsibilities in the institution, it was just as clear as it was to the Fed Chairman that interest rates should remain low. In my view Kohn and Warsh had made unnecessary public waves with untimely speeches and a Wall Street Journal op-ed, counter to the interests of both the economy and the Fed, the kind of transgression for which former Fed Vice Chairman Alan Blinder had to resign from the Greenspan Fed.
During and since that time I had, as I usually do, wrote several blog articles for my blog and to the newspapers as a part of my volunteer activities through my firm that bears no contractual relationship to the Fed. I actively engage in the public debates about both the Fed’s interest rate policy and regulatory policy as well as other issues of the day through my blog, from behind my closed office doors, to keep myself busy as I find time between my work tasks, to build up my consulting firm through unpaid volunteerism before I decide to leave government at some point.
My employer within the Fed, the Division of Research and Statistics, had informed me at the time I was hired in my job that employees must work to keep themselves busy during downtimes because some downtime is experienced by all Fed staff, and particularly the economist staff more so than the others. The economists are expected to spend their inter-meeting time (between FOMC meetings) doing technical economic research related to post-Ph.D dissertation work pertaining to their job responsibilities, to essentially hit the ground running as soon as they are hired by the Fed. I spend my time building up my consulting firm through volunteer activities in the area of public policy and political strategy.
My blog articles are highly interdisciplinary and unconventional in their analysis of the economic situation and it is not how the Federal Reserve economists support the FOMC. The Fed economists engage in conventional technical economic forecasting and base their judgment on the interpretation of economic variables in the econometric equations. My articles, to the contrary, are reflective of my education and experience and the way I see the world. Through my articles I practice the art of making public policy and verify my judgment with publicly available data. There is no reason why anyone at the Fed should know about my public blog or my volunteer activities and therefore no reason why that should impact my job at the Fed.
Still, it did. I was suspended from work gratuitously and unceremoniously for reporting that the Fed’s internal network monitoring processes are compromising my personal data and perhaps leaking them publicly neither with my consent or knowledge. It is clear that the true motivation for doing so was that I could not be pressured into attributing my analysis or my volunteer work to others in the Fed bureaucracy or on the Board, because that pressure was applied in not so subtle ways, despite my chronic complaints that the Fed should have little to do with my personal material. Recently, I have explicitly stated on my public Linkedin profile that I advise the Fed Board on monetary policy and strategy because of these internal pressures through my division’s Administrative Officer to misattribute my personal work to the Fed Chairman and to pass along my company to others if I want it to succeed. This is not as choice that belongs to the Fed which has nothing to do with my personal business of which I am sole legal owner and member. Almost all employees always have various types of personal information on their computers but my personal information had become a target of bureaucratic harassment because of its intellectual value in ably countering the Fed’s official positions on issues or some Board member’s political agenda.
As a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) it was my responsibility in my job to immediately notify network security if I see any breaches. The very fact that I had complained to discharge my job responsibilities resulted in disciplinary action, something which I had never experienced in my nearly 17 years of work life since graduate school. The pattern of intervention to corrupt my work related network data clearly reveals the intent to systematically ensnare me into negating all my past superior performance at the Fed since 1998 through two successive performance reviews in a period of 3 months to put me on a path to be fired from the Fed.
It seems that my only performance deficiency was not to keep the matter within the bureaucracy, in the Division of Research and Statistics, where I am employed as a mid-level systems analyst (with no promotions and a stagnated career in a decade of service in the institution despite superior performance), even though I had only done so after exhausting all avenues up the communication hierarchy at the Fed beginning last year.
This matter now rests with the Federal Reserve’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG), Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, the White House and the Ombudsperson’s office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on matters of intellectual integrity of their graduates because the targeted, vindictive, vicious and systematic effort to discredit a person who is both a government employee and a United States citizen to deprive me of my intellectual and corporate assets is unacceptable for it willfully and systematically obstructs any possibilities I may have for business success, prestige and fame. More importantly, it is disturbing to experience such unchecked and brazen exercise of institutional power because there are also strong reasons to believe that I am under 24-hour surveillance.
Pending any settlement with the Fed which I had myself proposed to resolve the matter amicably or direct responsibility to shape the institution with a seat on the Board of Governors in Washington, I expect to deal with the Fed legally through pro bono legal help for chronically violating my civil liberties and causing grave personal injury and disassociate myself completely from the Fed so as not to harm my reputation and credibility and that of my firm any further. Nobody would wish a similar experience for themselves.
President Obama has an opportunity to change the composition of the Fed Board by appointing all of its 7 members by replacing the departing Donald Kohn and by replacing Kevin Warsh with the likes of Janet Yellen, Christina Romer, Robert Shiller, Carmen Reinhart and myself.