NEW YORK – Economic models, the distinguished Canadian economist Reuven Brenner notes, resemble the grass models of American planes and airfields constructed by the New Guinea Cargo Cults of the 1940s. By building fetishes that resembled the aircraft that brought cargo to New Guinea during the war, the cultists believed, they, too, would attract cargo from the skies.
The Federal Reserve’s faith in its models is touching, but less excusable than the mistake of the paleolithic tribesmen of New Guinea. As the worst inflation in 40 years became manifest starting a year ago, the Federal Reserve repeatedly denied that it was happening and that rising prices were only “transitory.”
Now that it is upon us, the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates and tightening credit conditions as a putative remedy.