I found the interview tonight quite fascinating . . .

If you think your job is tough, consider Ben Bernanke’s. As Chairman of the Federal Reserve, the task of reviving the U.S. economy falls largely on his shoulders. Scott Pelley has the interview.

The Chairman Part 1

March 15, 2009 4:01 PM

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke candidly speaks to Scott Pelley about his personal life, as both visit his old high school and how the current financial crisis is affecting Main Street America.

The Chairman Part 2
March 15, 2009 4:26 PM

Category: Bailouts, Credit, Derivatives, Economy, Federal Reserve, Video

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

67 Responses to “60 Minutes: Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke”

  1. JustinTheSkeptic says:

    I agree a better system needs to be developed but it won’t happen in the pantheon of the rich and powerful. That is not to say that it anything is easy. But please try letting economic systmes fail…and revive themselves…there is something to be learned. Especially with todays sysitictics…

  2. franklin411 says:

    Fantastic interview. I didn’t like Bernanke at first because I regarded his obsession with inflation to be maddening. I have to admit that he seems to have really grown into the role, and I wonder if perhaps he hasn’t begun to reassert control over the Fed from right-wing nutcases of the Bill Poole type (who I know is retired, thank the Good Lord!).

  3. Littlejohn says:

    This guy cracks me up.
    He forcasts an end to the recession in 09, then almost in the same breath, says that you can’t forcast what is going to happen going forward.
    Is it any wonder?
    Do we have the right people for the job across the whole spectrum?
    Maybe we need Dr Phil in to address the delusional persona that inhabits the participants in the corridors of power?
    Maybe then, there is a way forward.

  4. harold hecuba says:

    i was intrigued that our genius at the fed was on 60 minutes. Unfortunately the script was pretty much exactly as i expected. the analogy regarding a wood house was poor. the green shoots made me laugh. but i nearly fell out of my chair laughing in hystericas and tearing when the interview entered the confidence in the economy and fed phase that benanke attempted to muster all the while AIG was just giving out 165 million in bonuses. what incredible timing by AIG and 60 minutes. s+p 450

  5. franklin411 says:

    LJ and HH:

    I see the magpies are out and about.

  6. Winston Munn says:

    Hi. I’m Ben Bernanke and I approved this commercial.

  7. Mannwich says:

    It wasn’t as bad as thought I it would be but I got a little peeved when he invoked a variant of the “mistakes were made” meme when asked what Fed could have done better in regulating the mortgage biz.

  8. if the job is proving too difficult, he should do everyone a favor, pack up his ‘Notes’ and go home..


    your mirror must be cracked, there be, but, one of you..

  9. try2bamused says:

    With Bernanke’s track record, why would anyone believe anything this man has to say.

    Unless you’re disposed to grasp at straws.

    The guy is a complete disaster. See you at SPX 150.

  10. CC_in_Georgia says:

    I think some of you clowns would get on here and bash if it was Barry himself sitting across from Pelley.

    The guy inherited a MASSIVE mess from Greenspan. He’s trying to navigate us through the most difficult economic period we’ve had since the Great Depression.

    But yet all the peanut gallery here can do is bash, bash, bash. Do you have a better solution? I would love to hear it. Think you could do better? Let’s hear the mistakes he’s made and what you would have done differently. Would you rather have Greenspan back? Propose a candidate you think could be doing a significantly better job.

    Personally, I don’t agree with everything he’s done. But I don’t have nearly the amount of information that he does to make a decision. I’m not nearly smart enough to know what the right thing to do would be. And I don’t have nearly the cojones to make unprecedented decisions that affect the largest economy on the planet.

    I’m grateful we have a guy who is a student of the Depression leading us right now. In the big picture of bad guys from this era, Bernanke certainly isn’t one of them. But you’d never know it according to the experts commentators at the Big Picture.

  11. try2bamused says:

    Ben Bernanke saves the world.


  12. Mannwich says:

    @CC_in_Georgia: Fair points but I think for many of us (myself included), the fact that neither Ben nor Hank saw this coming even back in ’06 and ’07 is cause to give many of us pause regarding confidence in his ability to get us out of this mess. Either he didn’t see it coming, or did, and lied to us. Which is more unsettling to you?

  13. sunny45 says:

    Fed is a private institution owned by major banks

    Ben said there are no insolvent banks although AIG is 80% owned by US Govt!

    Ben did admit that Fed is PRINTING MONEY!

  14. amen to cc.

    there is a bubble in arm chair commentary that lacks any underpinnings of pragmatism and realism.

    careful what many of these newfound libertarians seek – you could argue it’s much closer to the “fourth” reich than the clear level headed fiscal savior they all desperately demand.

    this is a far too imperfect world to be dogmatically cynical to every solution and to see every problem through a binary lens of right and wrong.

  15. Mannwich says:

    What kills me is Geithner and Summers claim that can “do nothing about” AIG’s bonuses because they’re “binding legal contracts” but here’s the thing – the U.S. Government, meaning we the taxpayer, owns 80% of the company. So the feds own the company but don’t have a say on employee compensation? Heck of a deal they struck there.

  16. shiggs says:

    Holy crap! Ben finally got a publicist. Screw Bailouts, PR to the rescue.

  17. Mannwich says:

    @guidepostings: It’s not about seeing through every problem “through a binary lense of right and wrong”. The market and our economy cannot function without the requisite trust & confidence in our system. Right now there is neither. Do you think that either magically comes back when nobody has really been held accountable or faced any repercussions for any of these grave mistakes and criminal actions? Morality and ethics are the underpinnings of our society if we hope for it to function optimally.

  18. califreak says:

    Is it my imagination, was there a very coordinated effort over the past week to artificially boost confidence using both government and business leaders? Examples from just last week:

    Barrons last weekend was unusually bullish throughout. Pandit’s email. Bullish comments from Dimon. GM says it doesn’t need $2B in March. Obama says it’s a good time to buy stocks. Buffett goes on CNBC for two hours. Ken Lewis says BAC won’t need anymore government cash and will be profitable for 09. About a bizillion editorials last week that said all the economy really needs is a boost in consumer confidence. And then, for the first time ever, the Fed Chairman goes on 60 Minutes and says the recession will be over by the end of the year.

    Very odd.

  19. Mannwich says:

    @califreak: Don’t forget “60 Minutes” piece on the FDIC last Sunday. That kicked off the week.

  20. CC,

    how about a simple: “Too Bad.” to the ‘Banks” that have cratered their own Balance Sheets. And, to replace the lost ‘credit’ capacity, We-the USTreas-fund a set of de novo Banks with the Capital, and pristine ‘sheets’ // in the bargain, we can tell the FedRes to go back where they came from–some immigration is illegal, don’t you know?

  21. califreak,

    it isn’t odd, at all.

    read some about this dude:

    it’ll come a lot clearer..

  22. mannwich-

    i believe you are mixing apples and oranges. morality and ethics and the fed and moral hazard. contrary to public opinion one of the fed’s primary safety nets is to introduce moral hazard precisely in a financial crisis – hence the appropriate analogy of putting out the reckless neighbors fire to prevent the block from burning to the ground.

    i don’t think you would find much “trust & confidence” from the viewpoint of the innocent and now homeless neighbor.

    get off the soap box. that was appropriate a few year ago. grab a hammer and start building.

  23. Stuart says:

    I wonder what else people expected Ben to say. Everyone must be aware that he is very aware how important his comments are to the markets. Why this is the case still is a separate point, especially considering their abysmal track record…. sub-prime is contained… right, well maybe one day .. lol. Still, whether or not he actually believes what he is saying, he is very much aware he does not have the luxury of being an impartial observer and make such utterances of an impartial observer. In his mind, this gives the green light to lie for sake of the market reaction. Case in point, to state that not one of the major banks are insolvent is an audacious falsehood, yet that’s the public position taken. If he actually believes they’re all solvent, then its checkmate and the game’s over folks.

  24. guidepostings,

    feel free to choose to be a Slave to a system that you, seemingly, do not understand..

    see: (from nearby thread in the “Cafe`”)

    “The problem with fiat money is that it rewards the minority that can handle money, but fools the generation that has worked and saved money.”

    - Adam Smith

    “At the end fiat money returns to its inner value—zero.”

    - Voltaire

    “If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issuance of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”

    - Thomas Jefferson

    “The money power preys upon the nation in times of peace and conspires against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy.”

    - Abraham Lincoln

    “Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes the laws.”

    - Amschel Rothschild

    “I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. No longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and vote of majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.”

    - President Woodrow Wilson (regretting signing into law the Federal Reserve Act)

    “It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before morning.”

    - Henry Ford

    “By this means (fractional reserve banking) government may secretly and unobserved, confiscate the wealth of the people, and not one man in a million will detect the theft.”

    - John Maynard Keynes, The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1920)

    “The modern banking process manufactures currency out of nothing. The process is perhaps the most astounding piece of slight hand that was ever invented…If you want to be slaves of the bankers, and pay the cost of your own slavery, then let the banks create currency”.

    - Lord Josiah Stemp, Former Director of the Bank of England (1937)

    “If the governments devalue the currency in order to betray all creditors, you politely call this procedure “inflation.”

    - George Bernard Shaw

    “In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation […] Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the “hidden” confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights.”

    - Alan Greenspan, Gold and Economic Freedom (1968)

    maybe one day, Americans won’t feel so exceptional, as to think that this, the above, does not apply to them, Today..

  25. Mannwich says:

    @guidepostings: Not mixing apples and oranges at all. Endless bailouts for weak firms that probably should utlimately fail so that the strong can survive combined with no accountability to date will not magically “fix the market” or all that ails this country. That’s all I’m saying. Let’s just watch how it all plays out. Be sure to not run away and disappear from this blog if you end up being wrong.

    I would love to “start building” but unfortunately my small biz is in the tank right now due to GD II. Haven’t made a nickel since Sept. Fun times.

  26. constantnormal says:

    Bernanke has been the most eloquent, closest-to-believable spokesman of the HappyTalk Express to date. It’s no surprise he was better than Geithner (how could anyone be worse?), but I found his deft use of the facilities and “majesty” of the Federal Reserve to be quite impressive.

    The guy has credibility and could actually have potential as a media financial commentator, something I would never have suspected.

    Whodathunkit that he could give a more convincing pep talk than Obama?

    Wonder what the game plan is for six months from now, when things have slid a lot farther down the drain …

    Maybe THEN they’ll get serious about battlefield triage?

  27. kkbmom says:

    The fact that we had performances from Sheila on 60 Min. last Sunday and Ben this evening demonstrates what dire straits we are in.

  28. Mannwich says:

    Next week Geithner will be on representing the Treasury.

  29. constantnormal says:

    @ Mannwich 11:20

    Of course the government has the power to strike those contracts down. Consider the actions to break PATCO (not taking sides, just pointing out the potential for action), and back in the pre-Reagan tax cut days, there was a veritable blizzard of horrendous tax shelter schemes, due to a lot of crappy legislation that Congress had created (almost certainly at the behest of lobbyists) — to make a long story short, they rewrote a lot of the legislation that closed the loopholes, and back-dated it (this is hearsay, based on the experience of a sales guy in the same office that the IRS was coming after). So Congress certainly has the ability to pass legislation to negate any employment contract of any company placed in “conservatorship”, or otherwise taken over, if not any company whatsoever, under some twisted definition of eminent domain.

    While IANAL, I certainly believe that it they really wanted to, the gummint is in an excellent position to impose their will on AIG, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, or to take the UAW and GM aside and “work something out” that would replace the existing UAW contracts.

    Instead, they keep hoping they will wake up back in Kansas.

    One thing you can say for FDR, when he came into office, he had a PLAN, and made things happen. Not saying whether his actions were right or wrong, that argument will never be settled. But the man HAD A PLAN, and worked it from day one. Not so our latter-day FDR-wannabe.

  30. -Mark E Hoffer

    how’s life outside the “system” treating you? date much?

    i would be curious to know the percentage of poor souls with mood disorders that find themselves feeding in the dark pools of eternal gloom and perennial cynicism.

    i have a feeling that you would be smiling during the throws of another american revolution – that is until someone shot you between the eyes for a can of soup.

  31. sourcethree says:

    I’m not sure if anyone else here works in the credit markets – but what Bernanke has done so far to prevent an absolute collapse of the system and to get some thawing in the system has been pretty remarkable (but judging from some of the comments here, perhaps he was supposed to let the system collapse?)

    anyway, the guy isn’t perfect – nobody is
    and the point about him not doing anything prior like in ’06 or ’07… its difficult to point the blame on him – he was handed a 20-year build-up in debt (aided by his predecessor), housing policies that actually encouraged those that couldn’t afford a house to go out and buy one (again, partly encouraged by his predecessor, but also all those that said EVERYone was entitled to the American dream), and a blind SEC – he’s doing a credible job to this point in my opinion given the hand he was dealt

  32. Mannwich says:

    @constantnormal: Exactly. And while I am fully rooting for Obama to succeed, I’m getting that sinking feeling that he’s following the wrong people off a cliff here. For Summers to assert they “did the best they could” and cannot just “abrogate contractual agreements” is utter nonsense. He’s banking on the ignorance of the public with such nonsense and sadly I fear he may be right.

  33. sourcethree,

    of course, no one is perfect, though, I, hardly, expect that that is what is being expected.

    sure, things are difficult, the system, levered as it has been, is unstable, though if anyone knows, or could have known, it is our, fairly, new Chairman of the FedRes.

    This whole idea that he gets excused, from telling the truth of the matter, b/c the ‘Market’ reacts to his every hand-gesture, is, simply, yet, another cheap canard.

    certainly, anyone, in our History books, that we, widely, recognize as a Leader, is not one that can be, properly, paired with uttering obfuscating BS..

    BenBer should take a page..


    that you think I may think that I’m ‘outside the system’, only, further, shows the limits of your conceptive capacity..

    and, to your, poor, attempts at riposte, really, no response is needed. Though, I will note that if your brand of self-fuelled delusion succeeds in netting you a catch, I’d check it for scales..

  34. Mark “Inconceivable” Hoffer


    sound familiar?

  35. gp,

    is your whole life reflected through references to flickering images?

    given your take on the FedRes and your worshipful defense of that sociopath, Geithner, one would presume as much..

    as well, I’m not fixin’ to spend 5 minutes trying to divine a point you, obviously, can’t spell out in a few words..

  36. xnycpdx says:

    two things:

    one, constantnormal wrote – “, and back-dated it (this is hearsay…).”
    no, true. back then, a girlfriend’s father was a big lawyer down in houston. he spent much of one spring break bitching about how the irs had just clawed back a HUGE chunk of money from him ‘and that tax shelter was LEGAL at the time dadgummit!!!!”

    second, while one would like to give bernanke credit for trying hard, i just can’t get around the fact that the privileged government/money/business class has no vision beyond its own survival. taking other people’s money and tossing it out to troubled friends and allies just occurs to them to be more sensible than buckling down and fixing the SYSTEM, regardless if a few of their pals at the yacht club lose a bonus or go to jail.

    we need more class traitors like FDR.

  37. continuing your nonsensical tradition for quoting…

    “pictures speak a thousand words”

    and oh they are so appropriate for you dear sir.

    i bid you adieu

  38. Boomer says:

    sunny45:”Ben did admit that Fed is PRINTING MONEY!”

    And? They made several press releases regarding the same.

    Ben gave a great interview.

  39. would you guess? per ‘guidepostings’, more people w/o ‘lives’:

    Delegates Impallaria, Boteler, Dwyer, George, Jennings, McComas, McConkey, McDonough, Minnick, Serafini, Shewell, Stocksdale, Stull, and Walkup

    Urging the United States Congress to restore honest money backed by silver and gold in accordance with the requirements of the United States Constitution, phase out Federal Reserve notes, and return to the free market banking practices that the Founding Fathers codified in the United States Constitution.


  40. Mannwich says:

    xnycpdx Says:
    “while one would like to give bernanke credit for trying hard, i just can’t get around the fact that the privileged government/money/business class has no vision beyond its own survival. taking other people’s money and tossing it out to troubled friends and allies just occurs to them to be more sensible than buckling down and fixing the SYSTEM, regardless if a few of their pals at the yacht club lose a bonus or go to jail.”

    Thank you. Said it better than I could. For that, I applaud you.

  41. the founding fathers codified slavery as well. would you like to reinstate that dear sir?

  42. guidepostings,

    if you’re going to be so lame, I suggest you don’t display it in public. you what is done to Horses in your condition, yes?

  43. Andy Tabbo says:

    No a bad interview at all. In fact, I was even impressed with it….

    He was smart to address the issue of printing money straight on….he seems to proudly say he’s printing money w/no qualms. He knows what the problems is right now: credit deflation.

    I’m out for the next week. Good luck to everyone. The way I see the market next few months depends on what sort of correction we get from this bounce off the lows. If we get a deep correction, below 700, then it probably won’t be so good for next several weeks. That would imply we will lapse into a triangle, congesting before the final little leg down to the low 600′s. On the other hand, if we get a wimpy, shallow retracement of this move, something that can hold above 700, and then power higher, then we’re looking at 871 minimum and a good shot at 996, as crazy as that sounds. This rally would likely last until mid-April. A strong rally from here would be good in the short term, but will make for a very lousy summer/fall. On the other hand, if we do congest into the mid 700′s and then rollover down to the 600 ish, it would mark a completed five wave decline from the all time highs and would set up a MAJOR rally for the rest of 2009…..

  44. i believe we should let the forum judge who the jackass is dear sir. displaying such acerbic wit of history you should surely know the judgement can not be casted by us – but by our peers.

    “you what is done to Horses in your condition, yes?”

    clearly i can’t compete with that. you had me at “you what is done”.

  45. gp,

    I would have added “know”, but given your displays, above, I thought it reckless to assume you ‘know’ much, of anything..

  46. CC_in_Georgia:
    Bernanke was on the Fed Board of Governors since 2002. He should have seen it coming and didn’t. He was happy to let Greenspan do whatever he wanted. To excuse “B-52″ Ben is just negligent.

  47. Trainwreck says:

    GREEN SHOOTS! That sounds just like Larry Kudlow’s mustard seed bullshit.

  48. Marcus Aurelius says:

    The elements:

    Fiat currency, inflation vs. deflation, savers vs. the indebted.

    The situation:

    We are a nation in debt.

    Deflation means we will be enslaved to our debt (scarce dollars cannot pay massive existing debt). Deflation is detrimental to the borrower.

    Inflation means that we can pay our debt (plentiful dollars applied to fixed debt). Inflation is detrimental to the creditor.

    We now have deflation. Millions cannot pay their bills, incomes are shrinking, defaults and bankruptcies clog the courts.

    The most recent iteration of our bankruptcy laws make it very difficult to discharge debts.

    Current policies would have us go deeper into debt (slavery).

    In a best case scenario, we are indentured servants, in a worst case, we are slaves.

    Jefferson was right on many counts.

  49. Marcus Aurelius says:

    Oh, yeah, I forgot: and Bernanke is a git.

  50. michaelblomquist says:

    A response from Greenspan’s office.


    My numerous letters to the FED led to the following, late toothless guidance on non-traditional mortgage products: Subprime, Option ARMs, Liar Loans, etc.


    Bernake recently made claims to Congress that they “identified” the problems within non-traditional mortgage products, but clearly that was not the case. Early on he and Paulson CONTINUALLY PLAYED DOWN THE CRISIS AS CONTAINED.

    How are we ever going to get out of this crisis with the same crooks and or inept regulators in place?
    Undoubtedly, they will be more concerned with concealing their crimes than viable solutions and rule of law!!!

  51. Jojo says:

    califreak said “Is it my imagination, was there a very coordinated effort over the past week to artificially boost confidence using both government and business leaders?”

    Absolutely! Here’s why:
    MARCH 13, 2009

    There’s No Pill for This Kind of Depression
    Six months after the collapse, a “pandemic of fear.”

    It is six months since Lehman fell and the crash (or the great recession, or the collapse–it’s time it got its name) began. An aspect of the story given less attention than it is due, perhaps because it doesn’t lend itself to statistics, is the psychic woe beneath the economic blow. There are two parts to this. One is that we have arrived at the first fatigue. The heart-pumping drama of last September is gone, replaced by the drip-drip-drip of pink slips, foreclosures and closed stores. We are tired. It doesn’t feel like 1929, but 1930. People are in a kind of suspended alarm, waiting for the future to unspool and not expecting it to unspool happily.

    Two, the economy isn’t the only reason for our unease. There’s more to it. People sense something slipping away, a world receding, not only an economic one but a world of old structures, old ways and assumptions. People don’t talk about this much because it’s too big, but I suspect more than a few see themselves, deep down, as “the designated mourner,” from the title of the Wallace Shawn play.

    I asked a friend, a perceptive writer, if he is seeing what I’m seeing. Yes, he said, there is “a pervasive sense of anxiety, as though everyone feels they’re on thin ice.” He wonders if it’s “maybe a sense that we’ve had it too easy in the years since 9/11 and that the bad guys are about to appear on the horizon.” An attorney in a Park Avenue firm said, “Things look like they have changed and may not come back.” He contrasted the feeling now on the streets with 2001. “Things are subdued. . . . Nine-eleven was brutal and graphic. Yet because there was real death and loss of life folks could grieve and then move on.” But today, “the dread is chronic. . . . Tom Wolfe’s Masters of the Universe were supposed to be invincible. The pillars of media were supposed to be there forever. The lawyers were supposed to feed through thick and thin. Not anymore.” He quoted Ecclesiastes: “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.” We are worried, he said, “about a way of life, about the loss of upward trajectory.”

    The sale of antidepressants and antianxiety drugs is widespread.



  52. harold hecuba says:

    here are some thoughts from a poster on another site

    Things that weren’t mentioned in Bernanke interview:

    Major fraud

    Leveraged looting

    Lack of transprency

    Bloomberg’s suit to force transparency

    Goldman Sachs control of the Treasury and Fed

    Regulation of derivatives

    Paulson and Rubin gaming the system

    Campaign contributions of financial institutions (buying Congress and the Presidency)

    Revealing the make-up of the $29 billion in Bear
    Stearns collateral

    The missing $138 billion the Fed gave to JPM after the Lehman crash

    Where the jobs will come from to bring down the unemployment rate

    The effects of the Glass Steagall Act repeal

    Lack of Fed oversight in real estate lending

    Paulson’s speeches to the SEC in 2000 and 2004 to increase leverage

    Collapsing pensions

    Clawbacks and restitution


    ALAN GREENSPAN, the real Ponzi King

  53. ottovbvs says:

    ……He was impressive……was anyone surprized……And BR please note he said it……..No major banks or financial institutions are going to be allowed to fail……he basically said Lehman was a blunder.

    Jojo Says:
    March 16th, 2009 at 3:47 am

    ……Peggy Noonan….Jojo’s substitute for Prozac

  54. ottovbvs says:

    Andy Tabbo Says:

    March 16th, 2009 at 1:05 am
    No a bad interview at all. In fact, I was even impressed with it….

    He was smart to address the issue of printing money straight on….he seems to proudly say he’s printing money w/no qualms. He knows what the problems is right now: credit deflation.

    ……He did also make the point that the printed money wasn’t sent over to Citi in armored cars…..It was credited to their balance at the Fed against all iffy stuff the Fed has taken from them…..The total amount is around $1.4 trillion…..Although it’s technically increased the money supply it’s not inflationary provided it’s handled properly over the long term.

  55. ottovbvs says:

    constantnormal Says:

    March 16th, 2009 at 12:03 am
    @ Mannwich 11:20

    One thing you can say for FDR, when he came into office, he had a PLAN, and made things happen. Not saying whether his actions were right or wrong, that argument will never be settled. But the man HAD A PLAN, and worked it from day one. Not so our latter-day FDR-wannabe.

    ………Constant Normal…..I’m afraid this statement demostrates how little you know about the Depression……FDR didn’t have a plan……He made it up as he went along…..Bold Experimentation he called it…..As it happens it was the right thing to do……but it certainly was not a plan……..And trying to abrogate all those contracts would be very difficult……Ever heard of Dick Grasso?

  56. E says:

    Bernanke is the right guy at the right time. Faber’s excellent documentary on the “House of Cards” had a quote from Paul Krugman that, if Bernanke were not the Fed Chair right now, he’d be the first guy everyone turned to for advice on the situation. He’s the expert on the Depression and has the Fed experience to know what to do.

    People can try to nitpick this/that, or nail him with their 20/20 hindsight, but the guy has the weight of the world on his shoulders, and in my mind has been meeting the incredible challenges so far.

    And why do people expect him to say anything gloomy or “realistic”? He’s a public figure with intense scrutiny right now – he’s not going to say anything surprising or deep – to do so would be massively risky.

  57. super_trooper says:

    “we do have a plan to stabilize banks”.
    I still don’t know what the “plan” is. This feels like “war in iraq” all over again. As Senator Conrad Burns from Montana said, ” The president has a plan , we’re just not gonna tell ya,….. because you’ll go out there and blow it.”

    And then we had Nixon’s secret plan for Vietnam.

    Is this a democracy?

  58. franklin411 says:

    You’re exactly right about FDR. He was great, and what made him great was that he knew that the crisis was unprecedented. He had no plan; instead, he had a philosophy, which was that the government needed to do whatever it took to fix the problem.

    It’s as if we just discovered AIDS yesterday and the idiots are screaming their heads off that we don’t have a plan for curing it by noon today!

  59. super_trooper says:

    Your AIDS analogy suggests that we will never “cure” the financial system from the current crisis, only mutate it to other equally bad forms.

  60. Davey says:

    What an informercial. Why was the following not asked of Bernanke on 60 minutes?

    1. Why was AIG worth saving but Lehman wasn’t? Neither firm was under the Fed’s regulatory framework, yet $160B was spent on AIG propping it up.

    Potential response from Bernanke: We had decided that Lehman was our line in the sand, and let it fail. And then realized we had utterly screwed the financial system.

    2. You have claimed that there are no zombie banks, including “stealth” banks like AIG. How can that be right with $160B spent to prop up AIG?

    Potential response from Bernanke: I’m lying for the cameras with a straight face because I don’t want to bring the financial system down. Clearly I should have saved Lehman, I am now depending on the lack of collateral to explain why the Fed didn’t. I admit that is a canard.

    3. Do you have a plan to get the economy going?

    Potential response from Bernanke: Yes, but the new Administration and the Fed are having a lot of trouble getting confidence back, and we also really don’t have a plan that Congress can get behind due to public anger and misconception about the role of banking in the economy.

    4. Should the folks who got us in this sh-tshow get bonuses?

    Potential response from Bernanke: Very tough one. Lots of folks made a lot of money, which of course the public is angry over payouts (understandably). They also got killed with the market downturn in financial stocks, which accounted for 50%+ of their comp, and is now worth 10% of what they got paid in stock.

    I wish that the Congress would at least admit that some got hurt personally on the stock and bonus, which was the majority of their comp, and they did nothing wrong.

    Some can leave to other, more remunerative jobs, which applies to the top folks, not the middle or junior ranks. But even the top folks are finding it difficult.

    5. Are you freaking out about the financial situation?

    Potential response from Bernanke: Yes. But don’t quote me.

  61. whatthe says:

    Of course Bernanke is a good cheerleader. He has been consistent all along. It is his job! “Subprime appears contained” he said then, “the economy looks to recover in the second half of [inserrt year here]“, he says. 4 years ago, as the housing bubble frothed, he said:

    “Some observers have expressed concern about rising levels of household debt, and we at the Federal Reserve follow these developments closely. However, concerns about debt growth should be allayed by the fact that household assets (particularly housing wealth) have risen even more quickly than household liabilities. Indeed, the ratio of household net worth to household income has been rising smartly and currently stands at 5.4, well above its long-run average of about 4.8. With real disposable income having risen over the past few quarters, most consumers are in good financial shape—a positive indication for household spending. One caveat for the future is that the recent rapid escalation in house prices—11 percent in 2004, according to the repeat-transactions index constructed by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight—is unlikely to continue. A plausible scenario is that house prices will either move sideways or rise more slowly during the next few years, eventually bringing the rate of return on housing in line with the relatively low prospective rates of return that we currently observe on virtually all assets, both real and financial. If the increases in house prices begin to moderate as expected, the resulting slowdown in household wealth accumulation should lead ultimately to somewhat slower growth in consumer spending.”

    His actual track record speaks for itself. He only keeps his job if he sees recovery just around the corner (at all times) and makes us all believe that the Fed knows what it is doing (nice actual track record there too, eh?).

    Bernanke appearing on 60 Minutes is rare, but not good news. This is more desparation . . . .

  62. ottovbvs says:

    whatthe Says:

    March 16th, 2009 at 1:03 pm
    Bernanke appearing on 60 Minutes is rare, but not good news. This is more desparation

    ……Sure there’s an element of infomercial about it but what ‘s wrong with that given the amount of misinformation out there including here at times with folks who have pretensions to being economically literate….There’s nothing new about the chairman of the fed sounding optimistic….seems to be working….Dow up about 2%

  63. flipspiceland says:

    Once he said, that guilt-denying phrase, now employed by everyone who does the wrong thing—-
    “mistakes were made”……..I turned him off.

    Yet another colossal waste of the ether.

    From all the remarks above, I made far better use of my time watchin’ a TIVOed episode of “Breaking Bad”.

    Ben, you are Pinocchio by any other name.

  64. whatthe says:

    @ ottovbvs

    If a combination of the Fed, Treasury, Barney Frank and the White House can reflate asset prices just by talking and not using my tax dollars in a multitude of failed strategies, then I am all for them talking all they want. Government cheerleading will work until it doesn’t. The US economy is fundamentally sound unless it isn’t.

    My point is that HOPE is not an investment strategy. Hoping in the Fed to fix the very mess they fostered is not a good strategy. Today’s market action was instructive. Up on HOPE (Fed), then down on REALITY (AMEX). More reality to come . . . .

  65. JasRas says:

    Your anger clouds your judgement. BR used to patrol posts for nutjobs… unfortunately, that would mean deleting many of your comments. I think some of the thoughts BR has provided show more thought than most have posted here.

    The interview indicates that Bernanke seems to believes fixing banking will fix the problem (ie, there is a demand for credit that isn’t being met due to mispricings, fear, etc) The perspective of BR and some other astute people is there is not a demand for credit, that the engine (the consumer) is satiated, and therefore has led to supply imbalances, etc…

    I tend to be in the camp of BR. Know too many people who, even if the “price was right” have no interest in a car, if the mortgage rate was low enough would not buy a house, and have managed to by every ticky tacky think they wanted or needed over the past 5years… People look around and have said, “enough”… or they fear that their job is no longer secure.

    Look, this isn’t just the run of the mill economic pull back. All classes have been affected. No, really, all classes have been affected. Ok, Bill Gates is all right, but I hear he is looking at a Mac…

    We are in the Springbreak cycle in our schools. I’m hearing a lot more about “stickin’ around, and daytrips, and less of the annual Florida trip. Or if they’re going somewhere now, they are cutting back in the summer…

    This is a cycle that is hard to snap. Next thing you know, people are thinking “hey, that wasn’t bad–we still had fun” People are less worried about the Joneses and keepin’ up.

    Now, maybe BR and others are wrong and there is some clearing price at which people can just not help themselves and have to buy stuff regardless of their level of debt and current economic situation. But that just sounds like the way people used to think advertising worked, a magic arrow that caused an uncontrollable urge to buy… it just aint so.

    Thirty year fixed mortgage rates are well below 5% in our area (non-Jumbo), but few than half the population can qualify for this rate. Even if you’ve paid your bills and are timely on credit cards, the precautionary move by many credit issuers to lower credit ceilings has changed people’s debt to available credit ratios to the worse–giving them worse credit scores. What a pickle.

    Anyhow, people need to take a breath, quite being so angry and hateful, and see what positive things you can do to help. If you aren’t helping, you are just in the way.

  66. goldeneye says:

    I just watched the 60 minutes piece. Thank Barry for posting the video links that show up on your site.

    I really enjoyed the interview. It was positioned directly to calm people and provide a sense of trust that the Fed / President are in the peoples court.

    Often I read the comments on this site and am astonished at how cynical many are. It astounds me that a country that voted in a President on the platform of hope, can’t see that so much of the current problem is derived from fear and anxiety.

    Of course the basis of mess is real, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve – Mr. Bernanke – has me feeling much more comfortable that a depression has been overted. That he is going to bring the ship into safe harbor.

    The mess of Wwallstreet is not going to be fixed on wall street. It is going to be fixed with the wider public has faith in their future. The banks lending again will give people a sense that the world is not going to end.

    Count me in with a huge amount of respect for Mr. Bernanke. I wish him good-luck and God-speed.

  67. Havard economists are the reason our economy is a complete disaster. Bernanke is book smart. In the real world Bernanke is useless. Too bad the interviewer wasn’t smart enough to ask the right questions.


    This is great. Take a look.