Wikinvest Wire

A busy week for Ben Bernanke

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's turning out to be an even more exciting week for Federal Reserve Chaiman Ben Bernanke than previously thought, Time Magazine crowning him "Person of the Year" today in a move that has spurred reminders of the magazine's "cover curse" and stands in stark contrast to the unexpected difficulty encountered during his Senate re-confirmation process where a vote is scheduled for tomorrow.
IMAGE Oh yeah, in just two hours, the Federal Reserve policy making committee will provide an update on their various money-printing programs (more politely known as "quantitative easing") and a new poll shows that, by a margin of better than 2-to-1, Americans think the Fed chief works for Wall Street, not Main Street.

Aaron Swartz, co-founder of the company that conducted the poll, told the Huffington Post:

This poll proves that Americans simply don't trust Ben Bernanke. Any senator who votes to confirm Ben Bernanke will make a statement that they care more about Wall Street bankers than their constituents. If Bernanke was smart, he'd withdraw his name.

Hopefully, Bernanke's staff has slipped him the Time Magazine story today instead of the one from HuffPost or any of these:
Yikes! Again!

The Time Magazine story offers the following:
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.

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

Bernanke is the 56-year-old chairman of the Federal Reserve, the central bank of the U.S., the most important and least understood force shaping the American — and global — economy. Those green bills featuring dead Presidents are labeled "Federal Reserve Note" for a reason: the Fed controls the money supply. It is an independent government agency that conducts monetary policy, which means it sets short-term interest rates — which means it has immense influence over inflation, unemployment, the strength of the dollar and the strength of your wallet. And ever since global credit markets began imploding, its mild-mannered chairman has dramatically expanded those powers and reinvented the Fed.
Remember that this honor goes to the "most important" person of the year, not the best, and that previous winners included Joseph Stalin and Adolph Hitler.

While it's clearly not fair to compare Ben Bernanke's award this year with the past winners noted above, it's also becoming quite clear that people have heard about enough of one of the Fed chief's favorite arguments in defense of his recent actions, repeated in the Time story, that he "wishes Americans understood that he helped save the irresponsible giants of Wall Street only to protect ordinary folks on Main Street."

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The Real Deal said...

Wow, the hubris of Time magazine is as breathtaking as the people it chose as Person of the Year.

First its editors declared the 3 Assholes as the Committee to Save the World. They can't save their own skins, less the damn country. Call them as savers of the World is as bankrupt as calling Enron executives as the smartest guys to to run the world's business.

Then, of all the people of the world who actually accomplished something, Time picked Helicopter Ben for doing what a 10 year old can do. Print and give $10 trillion to his buddies in Wall Street, costing him nothing. But making him look like some kind of Greek god.

While the world famous American imperial hubris can taken a beating of late, the hubris of its big media is as strong and unblemished as that of the finance executive mob.

Now it's not fair for me to spit on Time editors without putting up my own choice of PoY. So here it goes:

China Central Bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan

Accomplishment: Governor Zhou has become the boss of Ben Bernanke. When he crashes the US dollar next year, he might qualify as Man of Decade.

Anonymous said...

Time magazine is still around? Color me surprised.

Anonymous said...

They should have nominated him pension thief of the year. He steals people's hard earned pensions away from them.

Carl said...

I wonder if there was really anything Bernanke could have possibly done to be well liked. He inherited a pretty bad situation from Greenspan.

It's a catch 22, if he bailed out the banks he was a crook but if he didn't the economy would have crashed even further.

Hopefully the Fed will become less autonomous and we can avoid similar disasters in the future.

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