Ben Bernanke, the Grown-Up in the Room

Ben Bernanke’s new memoir, The Courage to Act, is neither easy nor scintillating reading. But clunky and dry as it is, the 600-page tome serves as a provocative reminder that not all high officials in our largely dysfunctional government are motivated by partisanship or the desire to protect bureaucratic turf. It offers proof that Bernanke and the Fed were the grown-ups in the room during a period of crises unprecedented since the Great Depression, regardless of whether you believe they have conducted themselves brilliantly or poorly.

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Right Said Fed

Last week, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen held her first press conference, where just a few brief words managed to upend the financial markets. When asked about the possible timing of raising short-term interest rates, she explained that there would be a “considerable period” between the end of the bond buying program—currently being wound down at a rate of $10 billion a month—and an increase in rates. What’s “a considerable period”? Nothing too specific, maybe “about six months.”

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Bubble or Not, Don’t (Necessarily) Blame Fed

Toward the end of her Nov. 14 confirmation hearing to be the next chair of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen faced a question from Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) about the effect of years of easy-money policies at the Fed: “Here’s what I’m saying. . . . I think the economy has gotten used to the sugar you’ve put out there. And I just worry you’re on a sugar high.” Yellen, who has been vice chair of the central bank since 2010, was not given time to address the charge, but her prominent role in supporting such policies gives us a strong sense of her answer.

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The Most Important Lesson the Fed Taught the World This Week

So the Federal Reserve did not taper after all. Having signaled in May and June that the central bank was likely to pare back its monthly purchases of $85 billion in mortgage and Treasury bonds, the bank and its chairman Ben Bernanke essentially said “Never mind,” and decided that now was not the time after all.

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Fed Tells Markets: There is No Certainty

So the Federal Reserve did not taper after all, as we know from its mini-bombshell of an announcement on September 18th. Having signaled in May and June that the central bank was likely to pare back its monthly purchases of $85 billion in mortgage and treasury bonds, the bank and its chairman Ben Bernanke essentially said “Never mind,” and decided that now was not the time after all.

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Ignore the Markets (and the Fed), the Economy Is Doing Fine

You could be forgiven for missing the latest installment of market panic over the past ten days. It came and went like a summer thunderstorm -- passing over the global financial landscape quickly and violently. But unlike meteorological events that inflict actual harm, the sharp gyrations of financial markets have increasingly less relationship to real-world economies and exist in their own never-never land of self-fulfilling prophecies and conventional wisdom.

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COLUMN - Stormy markets, smooth seas

You could be forgiven for missing the latest installment of market panic over the past ten days. It came and went like a summer thunderstorm, passing over the global financial landscape quickly and violently. But unlike meteorological events that inflict actual harm, the sharp gyrations of financial markets have increasingly less relationship to real-world economies and exist in their own never-never land of self-fulfilling prophecies and conventional wisdom.

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Our Hero, Ben Bernanke: Why Central Bankers (Not Politicians) Are Saving the Global Economy

The Federal Reserve just announced a new round of measures designed to keep the money flowing. Central bankers -- not to be confused with the heads of private banks that have received so much opprobrium for their role in the financial crises of the past years - are not noted for their charisma or their communication skills, but their role in shaping today's world, shadowy at times, could hardly be greater. The question is: Are they helping or harming?

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The Fed’s Forthright Admission About Our Messy Economic Situation

The Federal Reserve concluded its June meeting today with a statement and a Ben Bernanke press conference. A variety of measures were announced, including an extension of an arcane but consequential policy of buying hundreds of billions of dollars of Treasury bonds ($267 billion to be exact) in order to keep interest rates low, on top of the $400 billion the Fed has already purchased since last September.

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Job Market’s Tough ‘New Normal”: Some Careers Aren’t Coming Back

As the overall economic picture in the United States continues to brighten, the job market remains a contentious issue. Yes, the headline official unemployment rate has fallen sharply in recent months to just over 8 percent. But most Americans, judging from polls, remain pessimistic about jobs and see a challenging landscape of high unemployment and stagnant wages. 

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GOP Debate Showed Irrational War on Fed by Gingrich & Other Republicans

Early in last night’s Republican primary debate, the ever-provocative, always-entertaining and occasionally astute Newt Gingrich launched a broadside against Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke: “Bernanke has in secret spent hundreds of billions of dollars bailing out one group and not bailing out another group. 

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Ben Bernanke's August 26 Speech Shows Out-of-Touch Economic Worldview

No Ben to the rescue. The hugely anticipated speech by the Fed chairman proved to be remarkably vanilla, which should have surprised no one. Bernanke reiterated a series of themes that have been well iterated in recent weeks: that growth has stalled but is poised to rebound in the second half, that housing remains a drag on the slow economic recovery, that unemployment is disturbingly and dangerously high, and that better government fiscal policy to address short-term economic weakness and long-term deficits is essential.

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In Bernanke We Trust?

Yesterday, Ben Bernanke departed from the silent, opaque tradition of the Federal Reserve and held a press conference. The event attracted considerable attention, for its novelty as much as for its substance. But those hoping that Bernanke would do his best imitation of Willy Wonka and reveal hidden facets of humor, complexity and charisma were, to say the least, disappointed.

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Ben Bernanke ’60 Minutes’ Interview: What He Got Wrong

When Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve announced last month that it was initiating another round of $600 billion in “quantitative easing,” the reaction was swift and negative. The supposed profligacy of the Fed was yet another arrow in the Tea Party quiver and was used to support the contention that government spending is out of control. 

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