Steve Forbes on Houston: Fed is bigger threat than oil prices

Suzanne Edwards | Houston Business Journal

In the run up to An Evening with Steve Forbes, a Jan. 6 event by AM 1070 The Answer and sponsored by the Houston Business Journal, I had a chance to sit down with Steve Forbes, the chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media. Forbes explained his view on the real implications of oil prices and who he thinks has the stuff to run for president in 2016.

How would you characterize the economic threat of falling oil prices?

What’s knocked the oil prices down chiefly is the strengthening dollar. The thing about the dollar is the Federal Reserve did not intend to have a strong dollar, so who knows what they’re gonna do next. The Fed is the key, and since they operate by whim and not by rules, you don’t know what motivates them to do what they do. Success and failure doesn’t seem to change their behavior. The way they did quantitative easing combined with bank regulation, they made it very easy for the federal government to borrow. Large companies obviously have easy access to credit, but (for) small and new businesses, it’s a very dicey thing. That’s a critical reason why we haven’t had the job creation that we would normally have. The Fed doesn’t connect the dots.

It would be helpful if the administration started giving timely approvals to liquefied natural gas export terminals. The price of gas here is much lower than it is in Europe, so those terminals would be helpful. That would give a huge market for gas.

What’s the ideal relationship between regulators and business leaders? How would you rank Houston in that ideal?

Well, Texas is at an advantage in overall regulation in being the state that tries to create an environment where you can do business. But in terms of financial regulation, Dodd-Frank has been a disaster. You talk to a bank of any size, they have to devote much more to compliance than they do to bankers, and that’s put a real dampener on lending.

CLICK HERE for full article