Richard Fisher, president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, said: “Senior officials of the Chinese government grilled me about whether or not we are going to monetise the actions of our legislature.”
“I must have been asked about that a hundred times in China. I was asked at every single meeting about our purchases of Treasuries. That seemed to be the principal preoccupation of those that were invested with their surpluses mostly in the United States,” he told the Wall Street Journal.
His recent trip to the Far East appears to have been a stark reminder that Asia’s “Confucian” culture of right action does not look kindly on the insouciant policy of printing money by Anglo-Saxons.
Mr Fisher, the Fed’s leading hawk, was a fierce opponent of the original decision to buy Treasury debt, fearing that it would lead to a blurring of the line between fiscal and monetary policy – and could all too easily degenerate into Argentine-style financing of uncontrolled spending.
However, he agreed that the Fed was forced to take emergency action after the financial system “literally fell apart”.
Nor, he added was there much risk of inflation taking off yet. The Dallas Fed uses a “trim mean” method based on 180 prices that excludes extreme moves and is widely admired for accuracy.
“You’ve got some mild deflation here,” he said.
The Oxford-educated Mr Fisher, an outspoken free-marketer and believer in the Schumpeterian process of “creative destruction”, has been running a fervent campaign to alert Americans to the “very big hole” in unfunded pension and health-care liabilities built up by a careless political class over the years.
“We at the Dallas Fed believe the total is over $99 trillion,” he said in February.
“This situation is of your own creation. When you berate your representatives or senators or presidents for the mess we are in, you are really berating yourself. You elect them,” he said.
His warning comes amid growing fears that America could lose its AAA sovereign rating.