Ben Bernanke

Ease the Day

Of all the strange things that Republicans have freaked out over during the last two years—a federal version of Mitt Romney’s health care plan, a continuation of George W. Bush’s bank bailout, a failed attempt to implement John McCain’s climate bill—perhaps the strangest target is Milton Friedman’s monetary policies. Yet here we are. Last month, the Federal Reserve announced it would purchase $600 billion in Treasury bonds in order to push down long-term interest rates and spark the moribund economy—a practice known as quantitative easing. Conservatives exploded in outrage.

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Earlier this month, a new conservative economic think tank called e21 sent a letter to Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke. The missive bore a heavy gloss of intellectualism. Its topic was the Fed’s “large-scale asset purchase plan (so-called ‘quantitative easing’),” and it carried the signatures of numerous academics and professional economists, all of whom listed their various books (The Ascent of Money), past governmental jobs (Chairman, President’s Council of Economic Advisors; Director, Congressional Budget Office), and current institutional affiliations (Harvard, Stanford, Columbia).

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I am of two minds about this New York Times piece about Ben Bernanke's reluctance to openly endorse fiscal stimulus: He believes that without the Obama administration’s $787 billion stimulus program, the nation would have been worse off, and that Congress needs to continue to prop up the economy in the short run. He agrees that fiscal measures to support the recovery would probably make the Fed’s unconventional monetary policy more potent. But Mr.

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Handoff, or Fumble?

In a much-anticipated speech on Friday, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke invoked a favorite metaphor of economists to describe the current, critical period in the recovery. Now is the moment, he said, that a “handoff” must occur between temporary boosts to growth, like government stimulus, and more lasting drivers, like spending by consumers and businesses.

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Ben Bernanke's “unusually uncertain” may be for our times what Alan Greenspan’s “irrational exuberance” was to the late 1990s—a phrase that captures the dominant mood without providing much policy guidance. As dissent continued to rise in the ranks of the usually united Federal Reserve Board, unusual uncertainty reigned supreme at the annual Jackson Hole meeting.

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Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke today announced that the Federal Reserve is prepared to bolster the economy if the economic recovery weakens further. Note the key words: "prepared," "if," and "further." While media coverage is focusing on the possibility that the Fed might do more in the future, the economists talking to TNR this morning think it should be doing more already.

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Paul Krugman: he managed (with a lot of help from Nancy Pelosi) to enact a health reform that, imperfect as it is, will greatly improve Americans’ lives — unless a Republican Congress manages to sabotage its implementation. But progressive disillusionment isn’t just a matter of sky-high expectations meeting prosaic reality. Threatened filibusters didn’t force Mr. Obama to waffle on torture; to escalate in Afghanistan; to choose, with exquisitely bad timing, to loosen the rules on offshore drilling early this year. Then there are the appointments.

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Shooting Banks

Simon Johnson and Peter Boone: Obama's impotent assault on Wall Street.

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Update: the Senate needs to hold a new hearing for Ben Bernanke--here’s the full proposal. Ben Bernanke’s reconfirmation as chair of the Federal Reserve is in disarray. With President Obama having launched, on Thursday morning, a major new initiative to rein in the power of--and danger posed by--our leading banks, key Senators rightly begin to wonder: Where does Ben Bernanke stand on the central issue of the day? There are three specific questions that Bernanke must answer, in some convincing detail, if he is to shore up his weakening cause in the Senate. (1) Does he support the President’s pr

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Double Down

Otherwise-obscure central bankers spent an unprecedented amount of time in the global limelight last year. As the crisis brought down not only banking behemoths, but also macroeconomic axioms, the expansionary measures enacted by the Fed’s Ben Bernanke, the European Central Bank’s Jean-Claude Trichet, and the Bank of England’s Mervyn King have been credited, at least for now, with preventing a second coming of the Great Depression.

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