My New Paradigm Frog

The highlight of my almost 14 year tenure as President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and member of the FOMC was the “new paradigm” economy in the second half of the 1990s. During that time, I often used the analogy of boiling a frog to illustrate the positive changes in the economy that had taken place so gradually over time that even though they had become quite substantial they snuck up on people. The punch line on the frog story, of course, was that the frog didn’t jump out of the boiling water because it was heated so gradually that the frog didn’t realize his paradigm was shifting.
I thought of that this morning for the first time in a long while because the GDP report coincided with the conclusion of the FOMC meeting. My “new” thought was that here we are with a monetary policy super easy several years after the beginning of the economic recovery while real GDP is growing at a four percent rate. An emergency monetary policy has lasted long after the emergency in the economy would seem to be over. What gets me is that I’ve been generally supportive of monetary policy—more so earlier than later—and have remained so while the unemployment rate has come down from 10 percent to 6.1 percent and the 2 percent growth economy has, temporarily at least, reached 4 percent. Just call me Kermit.


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