Thursday, January 28, 2010

Four More Years for Ben Bernanke; What Will He Do?

Ben Bernanke was confirmed by the U.S. Senate today for a second four-year term as chairman of the Federal Reserve. He was supported by 70 senators, which sounds like a lot but is actually the lowest support a Fed chairman has ever received.

His reactions to the financial crisis have been lauded and lamented; he has been criticized for being too slow, too fast, too interventionist, too power-hungry -- and all of that likely contributed to his relative unpopularity in the Senate chamber. At the same time, he is Fed chair at a time of economic troubles unmatched since the Great Depression, which just happens to be an era on which he is a scholar.

David Wessel, economics editor for The Wall Street Journal and author of In Fed We Trust: Ben Bernanke's War on the Great Panic (and perhaps the only person to compare speaking to The Commonwealth Club with Judge Judy), addressed The Commonwealth Club in September 2009 on the topic of "Ben Bernanke vs. the Great Panic." Watch the video above of that presentation to see what insight Wessel offers into Bernanke's decision-making, and what that tells us about how the Fed chief is likely to steer the economy in his second term.


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