January 15, 2010
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.
Barack Obama, You Remind Me of Herbert Hoover
January 05, 2010
Barack Obama has been compared to almost every American President of the last hundred years--favorably to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan; and unfavorably to Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush.
December 30, 2009
In a year when the government enacted one of its largest-ever stimulus bills, guaranteed hundreds of billions of dollars in bank debt, bought hundreds of billions more in mortgage-backed securities, took 60 percent ownership of one car company and put up billions in financing for another, it’s not obvious why you’d dwell on an initiative that basically cost nothing.
Bernanke Comments on the "Doom Loop." But Does He Get It?
December 22, 2009
Senator David Vitter submitted one of my questions to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, as part of his reconfirmation hearings, and received the following reply in writing (as already published in the WSJ online): Q. Simon Johnson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and blogger: Andrew Haldane, head of financial stability at the Bank of England, argues that the relationship between the banking system and the government (in the U.K.
Do We Even Have a Manufacturing Problem?
December 21, 2009
Matt Yglesias, among others, responds to my piece from Friday about the long-term decline in U.S. managers' competence when it comes to running manufacturing firms by questioning a basic premise of the piece: whether U.S.
UPDATED, 12.12: Wall St. Reform Bill Passes the House
December 11, 2009
Looks like it passed with almost everything intact--consumer protection agency, resolution authority, systemic risk provisions, etc. The only thing that looks slightly ominous to my eyes is the derivatives piece.
Bernanke's Conservative Message
December 04, 2009
My colleague Noam Scheiber has parsed Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s testimony about the power of the Federal Reserve, but Bernanke also commented in hearings yesterday about government fiscal policy; and what he had to say was, to say the least, disturbing. Echoing the charges of economic conservatives and Wall Streeters like investment banker Peter Peterson, Bernanke took aim against what these folks call “entitlements,” but which are known popularly to be social security and Medicare. Republicans can be expected to cite his comments in the current debate over the Democratic health
Bernanke Testifies: Is the Chairman Risking the Fed's Independence?
December 03, 2009
Conservatives like to quip that, for the average member of Congress, spending other people’s money is the best part of the job. If that’s true, then grilling the Fed chairman after a financial crisis has to rank a close second. The members of the Senate Banking Committee didn't hold back when Ben Bernanke made his case for a second term on Thursday.
Should Geithner Resign?
November 24, 2009
So far the members of Congress who think the Treasury Secretary should go don't quite constitute a full-blown caucus, much less anything resembling a majority. But they're expressing their opinions with increasing passion. Early this month Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell confessed that she was "not sure" why Geithner still had his job given his too-soft treatment of Wall Street.
Is It Time for an Inflation Target?
November 23, 2009
The Fed's dual mandate is to aim for full employment and price stability, but since Paul Volcker's day, it's safe to say the central bank has been more concerned with the latter than the former.