Tag Archives: Ralph Nader

Fed Chair Janet Yellen, Ralph Nader Trade Blows Over Interest Rates

In October, five-time independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader wrote an open letter on behalf of Americans with savings and money market accounts to Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen criticizing the Fed’s near-zero interest rate policies. Yellen broke from the stoic tradition of Fed chairs in the past and directly responded in a letter to Nader.

In the open letter published by the The Huffington Post, Nader wrote:

[pull_quote_center]We are a group of humble savers in traditional bank savings and money market accounts who are frustrated because, like millions of other Americans over the past six years, we are getting near zero interest. We want to know why the Federal Reserve, funded and heavily run by the banks, is keeping interest rates so low that we receive virtually no income for our hard-earned savings while the Fed lets the big banks borrow money for virtually no interest. It doesn’t seem fair to put the burden of your Federal Reserve’s monetary policies on the backs of those Americans who are the least positioned to demand fair play.[/pull_quote_center]

[RELATED: Ralph Nader Blasts Huffington Post’s “Censorship” of Trump Political News]

He added, “We hear the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors and the various regional board presidents regularly present their views of the proper inflation and unemployment rate, and on stock market expectations that influence their calculations for keeping interest rates near-zero. But we never hear any mention of us – the savers of trillions of dollars who have been forced to make do with having the banks and mutual funds essentially provide a lock-box for our money while they use it to make a profit for their firms and, in the case of the giant banks and large mutual funds, pay their executives exorbitant salaries… We are tired of this melodrama that exploits so many people who used to rely on interest income to pay some of their essential bills. Think about the elderly among us who need to supplement their social security checks every month.

On Nov. 23, Yellen responded to Nader with a letter of her own, in which she blamed the “hardship” suffered by savers and “particularly seniors on fixed incomes” on what she described as a “continuing aftermath” of the 2007-2008 financial crisis and the “severe recession that followed.

It may help to review a few basic facts,” Yellen lectured. “These lower borrowing costs for millions of American families and businesses helped support asset prices—including home prices and, as you note, stock prices. More importantly, by making consumer purchases more affordable and encouraging businesses to invest, low interest rates supported the economic recovery and the creation of millions of jobs.

Would savers have been better off if the Federal Reserve had not acted as forcefully as it did and had maintained a higher level of short-term interest rates, including rates paid to savers? I don’t believe so. Unemployment would have risen to even higher levels, home prices would have collapsed further, even more businesses and individuals would have faced bankruptcy and foreclosure, and the stock market would not have recovered,” she wrote.

[RELATED: Trump: Fed Chair Yellen Not Raising Rates ‘Because Obama Told Her Not To’]

Nader’s open letter controversially suggested that Yellen consult her Nobel Prize winning economist husband George Akerlof on interest rate policy, a move that many observers interpreted as a sexist gaffe.

Slate’s Jordan Weissmann, who described Nader’s comments as “gross mansplaining,wrote, “So, why is Yellen taking time to respond to a man who hasn’t been politically relevant for 15 years? This is purely speculation, but I don’t really think Janet Yellen cares all that much about Ralph Nader. But the man’s criticisms of the Fed just happen to closely mirror arguments made by some conservatives, who have made bashing the central bank a major economic theme of the GOP primary. So Nader’s letter gives her an excuse to very pointedly respond in writing to their accusations without looking too overtly political. Or maybe the woman just really took umbrage at that husband line.

Ralph Nader Blasts Huffington Post’s “Censorship” of Trump Political News

In an op-ed for New York Daily News which sought to identify a “bright line beyond which [mass media] censorship takes hold,” Ralph Nader criticized The Huffington Post’s decision to file all news about Donald Trump’s political campaign under its entertainment category rather than covering Trump in its politics section like it does for the rest of the 2016 candidates.

The Huffington Post, which carries my column, announced that it is excluding Trump from its political coverage and instead filing all stories about the man leading the Republican field, according to the most recent polls, under entertainment,” wrote Nader, who called Trump’s rise in the polls a “teachable moment for the mass media” and theorized that “failing to take Trump seriously could set a dangerous precedent for future candidates with fresh ideas, looking to shake up the controlling status quo.

If [The Huffington Post] existed in the 1980s, would they have done this to that B-list actor, Ronald Reagan? … Imagine the stories an outlet would have lost if they’d cut him out of their political coverage.” Nader added, “Moreover, how is HuffPo going to ‘entertain’ its readers when Trump is the only Republican candidate who trashes despotic trade treaties or renews his previous commitment to keep Social Security and Medicare intact, or calls for more military aggression, a giant wall on the Mexican border or more corporate welfare? … Like it or loathe it, it is a political agenda.

Nader also leveled criticism at Fox News for limiting its prime time debate to only 10 candidates and called the network’s choice to include candidates on the basis of their poll numbers “a serious blow to the other candidates, some of whom started later and haven’t been bankrolled by big money.

Nader also blasted the Commission on Presidential Debates’ exclusion of independent candidates from general election presidential debates, calling the organization the Republican and Democratic “duopoly’s lovechild.” The five-time independent candidate for president wrote, “Without independent wealth, third party or independent candidates don’t stand a chance of reaching millions of voters unless this system is changed and they are invited, with equal footing, onto the debate stage.

[RELATED: Commission on Presidential Debates Considers Ditching 15% Rule for Third Party Candidates]

Nader also pointed out how non-viable political candidates have in the past shaped American politics and argued that excluding them from media coverage could prevent anti-establishment political views from taking hold, “Journalists who facilely call it an editorial judgement to exclude such candidates need a history lesson on how pioneering long-shots, who never won national elections, challenged and eventually changed the agendas of the entrenched parties. Have we forgotten the anti-slavery Liberty Party in 1840 or the numerous parties advocating for women’s suffrage, the rights of farmers and workers, and election reforms in the late 19th and early 20th centuries?

Nader concluded his op-ed with a warning for the mainstream media posed as a question: “It is time to end this political bigotry and engage in some modest discussion about what is newsworthy and what is just ditto-heading the political oligarchy? Or is the press waiting for a third-party run by a jilted Trump to teach them these lessons?

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