This month marks the seventh anniversary of the Federal Reserve's first round of quantitative easing — the program that more than quadrupled the central bank's balance sheet, sparking a debate over the limits of monetary policy.
The Fed is now taking baby steps toward ending its crisis-era policy, laying the groundwork for a widely expected interest rate hike in a few weeks. That hasn't allayed the concerns of a former Fed official who helped implement QE.
Andrew Huszar is a Fed veteran who served as the "quarterback" for the world's largest stimulus program by managing the purchase of more than $1 trillion worth of mortgage-backed bonds — only to renounce his support for the entire effort in a 2013 public apology. In a recent interview with CNBC, Huszar insisted the excess liquidity created by the Fed has done more to enrich Wall Street than the average citizen.
By swelling its balance sheet to a record $4.5 trillion through three separate forays into bond buying, the central bank has "lost some perspective," Huszar told CNBC. "It's expanded its footprint so largely that's it's seeing the world too much through Wall Street's eyes," he said, speaking of the "unintended consequences" of QE that are coming due.
As blue chip and technology shares have soared — major benchmarks hit record highs earlier this year — key indicators such as consumer spending, job creation and wages have remained stagnant.
"Consumer spending over the last seven years has been the most anemic on record," having grown by less than 2 percent, Huszar said. "Unless you think the top 20 percent of Americans can fuel the entire economy, you have a situation where we're not going to have enough consumption to fuel GDP."