Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bernanke Chosen for Second Term as Fed Chairman

President Obama has nominated Ben Bernanke for another term as chair of the Fed. (For a news article on this, see here.) Bernanke likely will face some sharp questioning in his confirmation hearings because of his role in the financial bail outs. Likely, he will face criticism from both the left and the right. But I think he is a good choice for a couple of reasons. First, his knowledge of the Great Depression has proven valuable in the ways he handled the Fed's reaction this time. Second, his focus has been on the task at hand rather than his own ego. Third, he is respected by other central bankers and many within the Fed. Fourth, he has to better than Larry Summers, who apparently was on a short list for the job. (Janet Yellen would have been better, but Bernanke is better yet).
I have some reservations though. I fear that his actions may impinge long term on the Fed's independence. I also am leery of adding more regulatory power to the Fed because that may make it more difficult to remain independent.
Senators tend to be great Monday-morning quarterbacks, so I expect the fact that Bernanke made some mistakes will be emphasized in the hearings. Hopefully, it will just be a lot of huffing and puffing, and Bernanke will be confirmed.

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