Bernanke may be the nicest, most well-intentioned smart guy on the planet. But my pinning of the lion’s share of the blame on him for the Great Recession is nothing personal, just as the loss of my career at the onset of the Great Recession, a career that I worked my entire adult life building, and nearly my house as a result of career loss was nothing personal. I’ve never met the man, though I regret with the utmost sincerity having had the occasion to learn of him.
It may be entirely true that the Fed is much larger than one man. But it isn’t larger than intellectual honesty. It isn’t larger than the truth. And Fed chairmen never had press conferences, a chance to speak directly to the public, until the crisis of 2008 and Bernanke had – how many? I lost count, but I watched nearly all of them. Perhaps it was the one I missed where he insisted that money had been tight since the crisis and that inflation isn’t a problem with easing until the slack is soaked up. But I think, however, that there never was such a conference.
Bernanke’s position lent him a platform and ample opportunity to educate the public that he could have used to work around damaging policy in the extreme that was supposedly larger than he. He declined to utilize it for that purpose. He may have had perfectly good reasons for doing so of which I am not aware. All I know is what he actually said; and judging by that I’d say he has a big problem – a problem that I am happy to report is no longer my problem along with the many other members of his sacrifice ratio who also had the fruits of a lifetime of labor sacrificed upon the alter of inflation targeting over the objections of House Financial Services Committee chairman. Bernanke’s problem is much larger than even the Fed.
Mistakes are very human and very forgivable. But dishonesty about mistakes and lack of repairing them are much harder to get past. In my last post, I presented data that show those mistakes made during his tenure were not repaired – and now they may never be. And if there were any one man on the planet whose lifetime of education built him up for some larger purpose in this world could have repaired them, it was Mr. Bernanke. But that opportunity is forever lost.
It really is very sad. But I am hard pressed for a reason to care about that. Maybe in his next life he can be the hero instead of the larger part of the problem.