Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Four More Years of Bernanke?

Late last week the Senate Banking Committee, on a 16-7 vote, approved another four-year term for Ben Bernanke to head the nation’s central bank, the Federal Reserve. As far as I’m concerned, Ben and his pal Toxic Timmy Geithner can take a slow boat to China.

At least there was enough opposition to Bernanke’s re-appointment to stop it from sailing through the Senate with a rubber stamp, and it’ll take 60 votes, rather than 51, to confirm him.

A Princeton professor who is said to be an “expert” on the Great Depression, he was named by President Bush in 2005 to succeed that ancient and decrepit old fart, Alan Greenspan, who won my “Asleep At The Switch” award year after year when I was writing editorials for WTDY.

Every time the media need to “balance” some economic story, they drag out that miserable old Greenspan and ask him what he thinks. And Greenspan doesn’t have the common sense or decency to refuse comment. He’ll prattle on about anything.

Greenspan and Bernanke have been wrong about just about everything for the past decade, and while I understand “Person of the Year” status from Time Magazine is to recognize someone who’s been very much in the news - I remember back in 1979 when the Ayatollah Khomeini got the nod from Time - I really think the editors blew it by picking Bernanke.

Just like John McCain The Elderly, who couldn’t remember how many houses he and his wife owned when asked the question by a reporter during the Presidential campaign, Greenspan and Bernanke were absolutely clueless about the gathering storm clouds of the housing/mortgage crisis.

In fact, I believe McCain’s now-infamous “the economic fundamentals remain strong” statement as the mortgage and financial industries collapsed was cribbed from Bernanke.

If he hadn’t so totally misjudged the impending economic crisis, Bernanke could have taken steps to soften the financial collapse. Bernanke, Geithner, and their Wall Street cronies are certainly not the team to lead economic recovery.
Bernanke is not without his supporters and cheerleaders, and I’m not just talking about President Obama. Plenty of powerful politicians and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce think he’s the man.

Not all is lost, though. There’s still hope that the Congress will summon the intestinal fortitude to pass legislation to expand Uncle Sam’s power to oversee the Fed and put some effective curbs on the greed that still runs rampant along that famous little street in Manhattan.

If Bernanke gets his 60 votes in the Senate and another four years at the helm of the central bank, better hedge your bets. As Bette Davis said in one of my wife’s favorite movies, All About Eve: “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night”.


  1. On the other hand, he's the nearest available failure.

  2. "Bearnanke" used to be known as "Helicopter Ben" (stems from a Milton Friedman remark about money dropping from helicopters. More here if you're still curious: http://bit.ly/5MVBFX).

    His management style reminds me of the captain of the Exxon Valdez who, roused from his slumber after putting the fully laden oil tanker in the hands of a helmsman he knew to be inept, clambered up to the bridge to survey the mess as the ship lay broken and helpless on the rocks.

    His first words, it is said, were not orders, actually. They more closely resembled (closely enough, anyway) whatever short string of four-letter expletives you may wish to imagine.

    Should his charter be renewed, we would probably do well to heed Bette's advice, and maybe don a Mae West to boot.