Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke Stands by Previous Policies
Once again Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke offered his defense for the unusual policy response to the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. The chairman told students at George Washington University that without those actions the world economy could have suffered a total meltdown.
While it is too bad that the chairman still has to go around making these points years later it seems that he is right despite the fact that the US economy remains slow amidst recent signs of growth and more job creation. The point is that things would be in a much worse situation if the Federal Reserve had not engaged in a massive monetary easing back in 2008.
These benefits do not come without risks however, with one of the biggest risk being that easy money from the Federal Reserve could enable banks and firms to postpone restructuring that has been deemed necessary. Another risk is for Congress and the White House to postpone getting the federal government’s long-term fiscal situation under control.
Three of his own central banker colleagues made that same point Federal Reserve conference in Washington recently, stating that these types of policies can make it much easier to waste time. It was also stated the Federal Reserve had bought more time for the US economy but that if the time was not used wisely then inflation and higher interest rates would be the ultimate result.
Former Treasury Department official Lawrence Goodman agreed with those concerns while saying that the Federal Reserve’s massive purchases of federal debt, amounting to 61% of net treasury issuance in 2011 is what is keeping interest rates artificially low as well as masking a decline in demand for treasuries from foreigners and the US private sector.
Mr. Bernanke assured everyone that he was aware of the risk but didn’t see it as threatening as the risk of entering into a deeper recession. He insisted that without the Federal Reserve’s policies that growth might have grown even weaker with tax revenue dropping even lower, unemployment rising ever higher and with deficits being larger than ever.