Bernanke, Time, Senate Banking Committee

Well the New York Times website is reporting that the Senate Banking Committee just approved Ben Bernanke for a second term as Fed chair.

This comes just after Time magazine announced that Bernanke is its Person of the Year for 2009. We know that this designation doesn’t necessarily mean that the magazine endorses the person in question (remember Hitler?). But here’s how the announcement describes Bernanke:

A bald man with a gray beard and tired eyes is sitting in his oversize Washington office, talking about the economy. He doesn’t have a commanding presence. He isn’t a mesmerizing speaker. He has none of the look-at-me swagger or listen-to-me charisma so common among men with oversize Washington offices. His arguments aren’t partisan or ideological; they’re methodical, grounded in data and the latest academic literature. When he doesn’t know something, he doesn’t bluster or bluff. He’s professorial, which makes sense, because he spent most of his career as a professor.

He is not, in other words, a typical Beltway power broker. He’s shy. He doesn’t do the D.C. dinner-party circuit; he prefers to eat at home with his wife, who still makes him do the dishes and take out the trash. Then they do crosswords or read. Because Ben Bernanke is a nerd. (See pictures of Ben Bernanke’s life from childhood to chairmanship.)

He just happens to be the most powerful nerd on the planet.

Ok—fair enough. Bernanke is a nerdy, professorial type. But non-ideological? We beg to differ. I asked Jerry Friedman, who wrote Bernanke’s Bad Teachers for our July/August issue, to give us his reaction to Time’s announcement. Here’s what he had to say:

In picking Ben Bernanke as Person of the Year, Time Magazine recognizes the man responsible for the little good and much bad that has characterized policy the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. When President George W. Bush appointed him to succeed Alan Greenspan as head the Federal Reserve, Bernanke was Chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors and an acknowledged acolyte of Milton Friedman. Like Friedman and Greenspan, Bernanke believes in “Say’s Law” or the principle that individual action through markets will eliminate unemployment. To Bernanke, the current crisis was caused by government mistakes, particularly the misalignment of currencies and the subsequent Chinese savings glut which, when it flowed into the United States housing market, led to an unsustainable real-estate boom. To address the subsequent financial crisis, Bernanke has been willing to move very aggressively but his actions have stopped with the Wall Street bailout because he sees no broader ramifications of the crisis. Confident in free-market capitalism, there is, for Ben Bernanke, no problem with free capital markets, no concern that growing income inequality or changing industrial policy may be undermining effective demand, and no reason, therefore, to revisit the conservative and pro-business policy decisions made during the neo-liberal era that began in the 1970s.

This is the man Time says is not ideological? Hmm… Maybe the analogy is not Hitler being named “Man of the Year,” but Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize…

One thought on “Bernanke, Time, Senate Banking Committee”

  1. Our system is so corrupt. We need to make elected representatives more accountable to citizens and less accountable to big business. What we need is a Constitutional Convention in order to give the House of Representatives the authority to call general elections in addition to regularly scheduled elections as well as to implement adequate public campaign financing. America’s interests are compromised when elected officials can’t randomly be called before the voters. Our interests are compromised when we don’t pay for our own elections. These are fundamental flaws in our system and any attempt to right them will be thwarted by the Senate. Our Founders provided us an avenue for reform. We need to hold a Constitutional Convention.

Leave a Reply