I have enormous respect for Ralph Nader. I think he has accomplished as much for social progress in the US as any white guy in the last 50 years. My one personal interaction with him left me with a feeling of awe at his level of dedication. (And, no, he is not responsible for that Florida business in 2000, but that’s another argument.)
Alas, he has gone off the deep end in his criticism of the Fed’s zero-bounded interest rate policy. He thinks it represents a scam to prop up the evil banks at the expense of virtuous savers, who deserve to earn more on their money. Even worse is the comment thread, which exposes the lunacy of much of the US left, or at least the portion of it driven by the urge to post comments.
For the record, if your perspective on economics comes from the left, you should be a big fan of low interest rates under most circumstances. (1) Given whatever fiscal policy is doing, lower interest rates mean more macroeconomic stimulus, with less unemployment and more potential for worker bargaining power. As long as there’s labor market slack, this argument should be compelling. (2) Low interest rates increases the shadow of the future. That means more incentive for conserving natural resources while lowering the bar for investment in new products and processes. (3) Interest is a return on holding money, and it’s hard for me to see how anyone on the left could argue that a greater share of society’s resources should go toward remunerating existing wealth. (4) It’s true that more of the burden for financing retirement falls on individuals who are now expected to bulk up their savings. This is the consequence of the demise of defined-benefit pensions and the failure to expand Social Security to keep up with economic growth. The reality is that most people can’t save enough to make for the lack of social insurance, especially with wages stagnant over multiple decades. A few percentage points in interest rates will not solve this problem: we need publicly funded pensions adequate for a decent retirement.
Meanwhile, the left should support the Fed in its low interest policy and put whatever pressure it can muster on it to resist the demand for tight money—which comes mostly from the right and the rich, except for Ralph Nader.