Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Questions for Bernanke...

Here at the "Cunning Realist".

Here's my take on the questions:

#2 is my favorite: "2. On May 5, 2009, in front of the Joint Economic Committee, you said the following about the unemployment rate: "Currently, we don’t think it will get to 10 percent. Our current number is somewhere in the 9s" [source]. In November it hit 10.2%, and many economists predict it will go even higher. This is happening despite enormous fiscal and monetary stimulus that you previously said would help create jobs. What happened after your JEC testimony in May that caused your prediction to miss the mark?"

Bernanke has continually had overly optimistic projections for the US economy. The obvious follow-up to this question is, why, if he forecasted unemployment to be somewhere in the 9s, did he not do more Quantitative Easing? Why did he think 9% unemployment was "OK"? And given that consensus projections are for unemployment to be above 9.75% and inflation to be low at this time next year, why did the Fed just end a program to purchase $300 billion in Treasuries? Why not, instead, bump this program up to $700 billion given that the job market is still bleeding? (And, if that doesn't work, why not bump it up to $1.5 trillion?) Since it is clear the Fed Chairman has continually erred on the side of doing too little, why should the Senate not expect that Bernanke will continue to do too little?

I also liked question (1) -- the Fed did make a mistake in paying back AIG's counterparties 1 for 1. Although this was a clear mistake, at the end of the day this mistake at least did not cause unemployment to go higher or do any broader damage to the system, however, so if I had to ask Bernanke one question, it would not be this one. And most of the rest of the questions are about the past. Yes, most are important, but I would aim my questions around getting the Chairman to explain why his policy, right now, is so cautious. In not so many words, I would make it clear that he needs to start greasing the economy for the mid-terms next fall -- or else.

No comments:

Post a Comment