March 16, 2008
They use to refer to John Kerry as a flip flopper when he was running against George W. Bush for the presidency. Now both Bush and Ben Bernanke, in a matter of a week, change their stance on the state of the American economy. Only last Friday did the two come to terms with a reality the rest of the United States was living.
President Bush on Friday acknowledged more starkly than ever that the economy has slipped into trouble, dogged by falling home prices and turmoil in financial markets.
“Our economy obviously is going through a tough time,” the president told the Economic Club of New York in a morning speech at a Midtown Manhattan hotel.
Shortly after Mr. Bush spoke, Ben S. Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, issued fresh warnings about the gathering wave of home foreclosures while pledging new regulations to limit the impact and crack down on predatory mortgage lending.
“Foreclosure rates have increased substantially,” Mr. Bernanke said during a speech in Washington before a meeting of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.
“Behind these disturbing statistics are families facing personal and financial hardship and neighborhoods that may be destabilized by clusters of foreclosures,” Mr. Bernanke said. (NYT)
I’ve never expected anything from our president. As Maureen Dawd points out, “Boy George crashed the family station wagon into the globe and now the global economy. Yet the more terrified Americans get, the more bizarrely carefree he seems.”
But Bernanke is someone I respected. He doesn’t come from a family that made most money by owning oil companies, like the man who appointed him. And he is an intelligent individual that understands, and has always been fascinated with, economic depression and the Fed”s role during these times. He wrote “Essays on the Great Depression“.
One would think Bernanke would be more in tune with the struggles of middle and lower class American families. But we’ve yet to see him take any real action to slow down their affliction. Instead, he bails out rich douche bags breaking his own conservative rule about the Fed interfering too much in the financial markets.
The Federal Reserve seemed to toss out the rule book altogether when it assumed the role of white knight, temporarily bailing out Bear Stearn.
Mr. Bernanke has become Wall Street’s most important and most powerful friend. Many executives are praising him for his creativity and willingness to act boldly. (NYT)
Back in 1998, when the Long Term Capital Management hedge fund required a Fed-arranged bailout, Bear Stearns refused to join the rescue effort. Jimmy Cayne, then chief executive at the firm, told the Fed to take a hike. (NYT)