Thursday, January 17, 2008

4,950 word profile of Ben Bernanke in NYTimes magazine:

For this Sunday, but available now.

Points made:
  • He's smart (MIT grad student).
  • He's an "academic".
  • His hero is Milton Friedman.
  • He's facing a lot of problems all at the same time.
  • "Bernanke is aware that he ... has a profound ability to affect the political landscape this year."
  • He wants to be known as a great central banker. [Who wouldn't?]
  • A wage-and-price spiral similar to that in the 1970s would be a political nightmare for the Republicans.
  • He was late to recognize the severity of the subprime mortgage crisis.
  • The Fed has very little influence over most of what makes the economy tick, like improvements in productivity, educational levels or whether commodity prices are trending higher or lower and so forth.
  • "The shadow of the czarlike Greenspan lingers over Bernanke, and as Greenspan has been promoting his memoirs and has otherwise been keeping visible, it is unlikely to go away."
  • [A history of various Fed chiefs is presented.]
  • Paul Volker is 6-foot-7.
  • Bernanke grew up in the small town of Dillon, S.C.
  • Ended up at Princeton.
  • He has to be careful what he says in public.
  • The Open Market Committee gets along well under Bernanke's leadership.
  • Jim Cramer, the high-voltage CNBC stock tout, gloated, “The Fed has got your back,” [and implied] gleefully that the Fed would protect investors at all costs.
  • Bernanke has clearly moved toward a policy of stimulus.


So when does he realize sub prime ("those" people who really should not own homes in the first place)is the least of our worries, that reckless refi's, flippers and commercial property loans are really going to blow things up?

Milton Friedman is his hero? That means we continue to transfer wealth to the top 0.5% through free markets and privatization. That's OK, I will be in the top 0.5% soon, I just know it.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/17/2008 1:07 PM  

I'm suspicious of people in power who obviously spend a lot of time grooming themselves for public appearances. Ben obviously has a lot of grooming. Alan needed grooming but apparently did not take much time to have it done. Looking at Alan's performance at the Fed on the sub prime matter, perhaps he should have spent more time being groomed than telling us there was no real problem. To groom or not to groom, that is the question.

By Blogger Shag from Brookline, at 1/18/2008 5:12 AM  

anonymous wrote, That means we continue to transfer wealth to the top 0.5% through free markets and privatization.

Actually, the wealth is being transferred upwards because the markets are not free.

Biggest source of the transfer is land ownership, no doubt. There's nothing "free" about that.

Then there's "intellectual property rights"---no freedom there, rather state-licensed monopolies.

Not to mention a de facto immigration policy that puts working class people in competition with immigrants (both legal and illegal), but not upper middle class professionals.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/18/2008 8:48 AM  

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