Tag Archives: Benjamin Bernanke

Peter Schiff: The Federal Reserve Is Basically Just A Big PR Firm, by SchiffGold

How about that, the government’s central bank spouts the government’s line. From Peter Schiff at schiffgold.com:

Most people view the Federal Reserve as an important policying-making body driving the economy. But in this clip from an interview with Jay Matin at Cambridge House, Peter Schiff says the Fed’s primary role is that of a marketing firm selling the populace on bad economics and trying to convince everybody that everything is great.

Peter said he thinks a large part of the Fed’s job today is public relations and spin.

To try to create a false sense of confidence in the US economy and the US dollar.”

Peter referenced an interview he saw with former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The interviewer played clips of Bernanke back in 2005 and 2006 as he claimed everything was great and there was nothing to worry about. Bernanke said there was no housing bubble and any problems in the subprime mortgage market were contained. The interviewer asked Bernanke how it felt to be so wrong.

Look, you couldn’t have been more wrong. And here you were chairman of the Federal Reserve. You had all this information. More than anyone else. Now, he didn’t say, ‘Peter Schiff was out there saying it’s a housing bubble. We’re going to have a financial crisis.’ He didn’t bring me up. But he’s basically saying, ‘You had more information than everybody, yet you were so completely wrong.’ Instead of saying, ‘Yeah, I really feel kind of dumb now that I look back. God, what was I thinking? I was so clueless,’ what Ben Bernanke said, to basically save face, his answer was, ‘Well, you know, I couldn’t exactly speak forthrightly or honestly.’ I can’t remember if he said honestly. But, ‘I couldn’t actually say what I actually thought because I was part of the administration.’ And I’m thinking, what? This is what he just said? Because the Fed is supposed to be independent.”

The former Fed chair just put a spike through the myth of central bank independence. He admitted he was toeing the line for the administration. And as Peter points out, Bernanke was basically saying he got it wrong because he wasn’t even trying to get it right.

Continue reading→

Wasting the Lehman Crisis: What Was Not Saved Was the Economy, by Michael Hudson

Debt as the solution to a debt collapse only harms the economy and sets it up for an even bigger fall later on. From Michael Hudson at counterpunch.org:

Photo Source futureatlas.com | CC BY 2.0

Today’s financial malaise for pension funds, state and local budgets and underemployment is largely a result of the 2008 bailout, not the crash. What was saved was not only the banks – or more to the point, as Sheila Bair pointed out, their bondholders – but the financial overhead that continues to burden today’s economy.

Also saved was the idea that the economy needs to keep the financial sector solvent by an exponential growth of new debt – and, when that does not suffice, by government purchase of stocks and bonds to support the balance sheets of the wealthiest layer of society. The internal contradiction in this policy is that debt deflation has become so overbearing and dysfunctional that it prevents the economy from growing and carrying its debt burden.

Continue reading

Bernanke’s Black Helicopters Of Money, by David Stockman

There is almost no idiocy to which Japanese politicians and central bankers have not resorted during Japan’s twenty-six years of economic stagnation. Now, apparently, under the tutelage of Benjamin Bernanke, they are about to engage in the ultimate idiocy: helicopter money. From David Stockman at davidstockmanscontracorner.com:

Ben Bernanke is one of the most dangerous men walking the planet. In this age of central bank domination of economic life he is surely the pied piper of monetary ruin.

At least since 2002 he has been talking about “helicopter money” as if a notion which is pure economic quackery actually had some legitimate basis. But strip away the pseudo scientific jargon, and it amounts to monetization of the public debt—–the very oldest form of something for nothing economics.

Back then, of course, Ben’s jabbering about helicopter money was taken to be some sort of theoretical metaphor about the ultimate powers of central bankers, and especially their ability to forestall the boogey-man of “deflation”.

Indeed, Bernanke was held to be a leading economic scholar of the Great Depression and a disciple of Milton Friedman’s claim that Fed stringency during 1930-1932 had caused it. This is complete poppycock, as I demonstrated in The Great Deformation, but it did give an air of plausibility and even conservative pedigree to a truly stupid and dangerous idea.

Right about then, in fact, Bernanke grandly promised during a speech at Friedman’s 90th birthday party that today’s enlightened central bankers—led by himself—-would never let it happen again.

Presumably Bernanke was speaking of the 25% deflation of the general price level after 1929. The latter is always good for a big scare among modern audiences because no one seems to remember that the deflation of the 1930’s was nothing more than the partial liquidation of the 100%-300% inflation of the general price level during the Great War.

In any event, Bernanke was tilting at windmills when he implied that the collapse of the US wartime and Roaring Twenties boom had anything to do with the conditions of 2002. Even the claim that Japan was suffering from severe deflation at the time was manifestly false.

In fact, during the final stages of Japan great export and credit boom, the domestic price level had risen substantially, increasing by nearly 70% between 1976 and 1993. It then simply flattened-out—–and appropriately so—-after the great credit, real estate and stock market bubble collapse of 1990-1992.

So even by the evidence of Japan, there was no basis anywhere in the world for Bernanke’s fear-mongering about deflation at the turn of the century.

Instead, Bernanke was already showing himself to be a dangerous academic crank with no compunction about dispensing among democratic politicians the most toxic ideological poison known to history. Namely, an invitation to plunge the public fisc deep into the red so that the central banks would have bonds to buy in their fight against the purported scourge of deflation.

To continue reading: Bernanke’s Black Helicopters Of Money

He Said That? 12/8/15

From Ben Bernanke, at the time Chairman of the Federal Reserve, “Remarks by Governor Ben S. Bernanke at the Conference to Honor Milton Friedman, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois,” federalreserve.gov (2002-11-08), commenting to Milton Friedman’s public statement that the Great Depression was caused by the Federal Reserve Bank:

Let me end my talk by abusing slightly my status as an official representative of the Federal Reserve System. I would like to say to Milton and Anna: Regarding the Great Depression. You’re right, we did it. We’re very sorry. But thanks to you, we won’t do it again.

Bernanke was wrong on both counts. The new Federal Reserve stoked the monetary fires and turned the 1920s into the Roaring Twenties (see America’s Great Depression, Murray N. Rothbard). The music stopped when the Fed began raising interest rates, but that should have led only to a recession. The Fed had little to do with turning that recession into the Great Depression by excessive monetary stringency, contrary to Friedman and Anna Schwartz’s thesis (see America’s Great Depression and The Great Deformation, David Stockman). Herber Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt and their brainless trusters can take the credit for that one.

However, the Fed’s quantitative easing and interest rate suppression policies have laid the groundwork for a Depression that will rival and probably surpass the Great Depression. So, to sum up SLL’s complete contradiction of Bernanke: the Federal Reserve did not cause the Great Depression, but its policies since the financial crisis will cause an even Greater Depression. Judging by the stream of articles on economic and financial deterioration around the globe, featured on SLL every day (and SLL culls those articles from a much broader universe), and noting their recent intensification, it looks like that Greater Depression has arrived.

Bernanke’s Balderdash, by David Stockman

SLL wishes David Stockman wouldn’t waste his talent and valuable time swatting flies, but at least he saves SLL the trouble. From Stockman at davidstockmanscontracorner.com:

The US and world economies are drifting inexorably into the next recession owing to the deflationary collapse of commodities, capital spending and world trade. These are the inevitable “morning after” consequence of the 20-year global credit binge which has now reached its apogee.

The apparent global boom during that period was actually a central bank driven excursion into the false economics of household borrowing to inflate consumption in the DM economies; and frenzied, uneconomic investing to inflate GDP in China and the EM.

The common denominator was falsification of financial prices. By destroying honest price discovery in the financial markets, the world’s convoy of money-printing central banks led by the Fed elicited a huge excess of financialization relative to economic output.

The central manifestation of that was $185 trillion of debt growth during the past two decades——a stupendous explosion of credit which amounted to 3.7X the expansion of global GDP.

And even that ratio is an understatement. That’s because measured GDP has been artificially bloated by the monumental worldwide malinvestment and excess capacity arising from the credit bubble. That is, phony “growth” which under the laws of economics will be liquidated in due course.

To continue reading: Bernanke’s Balderdash

They Said That? 5/14/15

Seems that long-time Benjamin Bernanke critic Peter Schiff had a face-to-face with his nemesis. Here is a transcript of the sparks flying, taken from a podcast by Schiff:

“Speaking of a clueless Federal Reserve, I happened to have an encounter the other day with former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Many of you may have seen the picture of me and the former Chairman. We were at a cocktail party, and I posted that picture on my Facebook page…

“I’ll give you all of the details. So first of all, Ben Bernanke was there to speak at the SALT Conference… He was paid, I believe, somewhere between $200-250,000 to basically hit the soft balls that were lobbed to him by Anthony Scaramucci, who was the host of this conference… At least make the guy do something for $200,000 – let me question him. In any event, he probably wouldn’t agree to that…

“I was watching from the speaker’s lounge… He walks out, and he’s accompanied by his secretary. He doesn’t have a big entourage… I see him and I come right up to him and I say, ‘Mr. Bernanke.’ I put my hand out and I say, ‘Peter Schiff.’ I can sense from his body language and the way he looked that the name was familiar. I think he knew something about me, but he didn’t necessarily acknowledge it. I think he said something like, ‘Oh sure.’ But I was pretty sure he knew who I was at that point. I wanted to make sure, because I didn’t want to have a conversation under false pretense.

“So the first thing I said to him, ‘Look, I gotta let you know, full disclosure, I’m probably your biggest critic.’ To which Ben Bernanke replied, ‘Well, you got a lot of competition.’ It’s probably true. There is a lot of competition. There are a lot of people who criticize Ben Bernanke. But I think I am his biggest critic. I’ve been criticizing him for longer than most people, and I certainly do it more often and more loudly.

“After that brief exchange I said, ‘Do you have a moment to chat? I’d love to talk to you.’ He said, ‘No, I don’t, I really got to go.’ I said, ‘Alright, how about a quick picture then?’ But that was it. He was gone. He was whisked away by his female handler, and I thought, ‘Well that was it. I’m not going to see that guy again.’ He was rushing to deposit his check, right?

“Later that evening, they have a cocktail party for the speakers. I get to the cocktail party, and who do I see standing there all by himself but Ben Bernanke. I got a drink and then went over to Mr. Bernanke who was still standing by himself, surprisingly. I said, ‘Mr. Bernanke, I thought you had to leave.’ He said, ‘No, I’m still here. I’ve got time for that picture now, if you want to take one. Which I thought was quite nice of him, because he remembered that I wanted a photograph, and he didn’t have time for it. Now he sees me and he asks if I would like to take a photograph…

“Initially I was thinking what do I do to spice this photograph up? Just a photo of me and Ben Bernanke. What’s the big deal? I thought maybe I should do the rabbit ears behind his head, but I felt kind of awkward doing that considering he had so graciously reminded me that I wanted a photograph and offered to pose with me. I felt that would be inappropriate of me to take advantage of him or make fun of him, so it was just a normal photograph…

“We got the photograph out of the way. Then I wanted to talk to him. The first thing I wanted to do was I wanted to give him my version of why the economy is so screwed up and why everything in it is wrong. The last thing he wanted to get was a lecture from me, but that’s what I tried to give him. But I tried to give him the Cliff Note version. I did want to ask him some questions, but I wanted to get his reaction to my take.

“I started talking about the housing bubble and the financial crisis and how the Federal Reserve caused that with its low interest rates. He said that no, it wasn’t that; that the interest rates had nothing to do with it. He first told me that the housing bubble was caused by Fannie and Freddie. At least he’s trying to blame the government. I said, ‘Look, Fannie and Freddie have been around since the 30s. We didn’t have that big housing bubble until the Fed happened to have interest rates at 1%, and then raised them very slowly. That wasn’t a coincidence.’ He said, ‘Well, it was subprime mortgages that did it.’ I said, ‘Subprime mortgages? But do you understand how subprime mortgages worked? They were all adjustable rates, and the most popular feature, what made them so enticing and affordable was the teaser rate. The fact that you can get a low rate of interest for the first few years. That was all because of the Fed. So if you’re going to blame subprime, you’ve got to blame the Fed, because the Fed is what gave life to subprime. It made subprime affordable.’ He also blamed regulation. He said regulation first before he said Fannie and Freddie. I said, ‘Well what regulations are you talking about?’ And he said Fannie and Freddie, which weren’t really regulations, they’re agencies. But he was really trying to lay the blame on the housing bubble on capitalism, because of subprime, and on the government, because of Fannie and Freddie.

“I said, ‘Wait a minute. If regulation and subprime and Fannie and Freddie – if that’s what caused the housing bubble, why didn’t you warn us about that in advance? Why didn’t you go in 2004, ‘Hey, we got a problem. We got these bad regulations, we got Fannie and Freddie, we got subprime , they’ve created a housing bubble! This is going to be a disaster!’’ He didn’t say any of that. He said the opposite of that. In fact, when he was asked specifically about the housing bubble, he denied that it existed. If it was being caused by the things that he said, why didn’t he warn about it? Because it wasn’t caused by those things…

“I tried to ask him some questions and that’s when he really wanted to end the conversation. The first question I said, ‘Mr. Bernanke, you’re so sure that you’re right. I don’t know how you can be so sure, because interest rates are still at zero and the Fed’s balance sheet hasn’t shrunk. You said you weren’t monetizing the debt when you talked to Congress. You said the Fed was going to sell the bonds, but none of them have been sold. They’ve all been rolled over. So how are you claiming victory when you haven’t exited? You haven’t raised rates, you haven’t shrunk the balance sheet. You were wrong in the past. You didn’t see the financial crisis coming. You told us there was no housing bubble. You said subprime was contained. So you were certainly wrong then. So how do you know you’re not wrong now? Is there anything that might change your opinion and get you to rethink and maybe admit that your outlook is wrong?’ I forget the exact words.

“Instead of answering the questions, he just patted me on the shoulder… And just kind of gave me a little smile and that was it. He kind of turned. By then there was a couple other people around us. He started talking to somebody else. It was clear to me that he didn’t want to answer the questions. After all, I’m not paying him $200,000, so why should he answer my questions. I don’t know, maybe he didn’t want to answer them. I didn’t get the sense when I talked to him that he was lying to me. I thought he really believed what he believed. He seemed that way. i’m sure all the praise has gone to his head. He thinks he’s save the world. So he did seem sincere… Who am I? I’m just this guy trying to talk to the former Fed Chairman and tell him what a lousy job he did. He probably doesn’t want to hear that. He wants to talk to somebody who will tell him how great he is. That was the last I talked to him.

“Later on that day, somebody came up to me… I was on a panel for forty minutes. The first ten minutes were the former Prime Minister of Greece talking to Steve Forbes… The highlight was me arguing with Gene Sperling. That’s where I got all my applause. Gene didn’t get any. He was the former economic advisor to President Obama. He got no applause. I got all of the applause. I even got laughter… I was saying some funny things. Funny, because they were true…

“This guy comes up to me. He says, ‘I was talking with Ben Bernanke. He was saying some bad things about you.’ So he’s already talking smack behind my back. I don’t blame him. I got no problem with Ben Bernanke saying bad things about Peter Schiff, because I say bad things about him all the time. What’s fair is fair…”


Oh, to have been a fly on the wall during that conversation!

Blogger Ben’s Basically Full Of It, by David Stockman

About 95 percent of what passes as economic wisdom is useless garbage, but the remaining 5 percent, mostly the basics, comprise an extremely powerful analytic toolbox. As this piece from David Stockman makes clear, Benjamin Bernanke’s “economics” fall in the 95 percent, and Stockman’s fall in the 5 percent. From David Stockman, at davidstockmanscontracorner.com:

Ben Bernanke’s skin is as thin, apparently, as is his comprehension of honest economics. The emphasis is on the “honest” part because he is a fount of the kind of Keynesian drivel that passes for economics in the financially deformed world that the Bernank did so much to bring about.

Just recall that he first joined the Fed way back on 2002 after an academic career of scribbling historically superficial and blatantly misleading monographs about the 1930s. These were essentially zeroxed from Milton Friedman’s monumental error about the cause of the Great Depression. In a word, Friedman and Bernanke pilloried the Fed for not going on a bond buying spree during 1930-1932 and thereby stopping the shrinkage of money and credit.

In fact, excess reserves in the banking system soared by 12X during those four years, interest rates were at rock bottom and the US economy was saturated with idle cash. So there was no financial stringency——not the remotest aspect of a great monetary policy error.

Instead, what actually happened was that the US banking system was massively insolvent after a 12-year credit boom fueled by the Fed’s printing presses. This first great credit bubble arose initially from the Fed’s maneuvers to fund the massive war production surge of 1915-1919 and then from its fostering of a vast domestic and international credit bubble during the Roaring Twenties.

Alas, none of the Fed governors during the 1930-1932 credit contraction had graced the lecture halls of Princeton. But to nearly a man they knew you can’t push on a string, and that a healthy economy requires that busted loans and soured speculations must be purged from the financial system in order for sustainable growth to resume.


To keep reading: Blogger Ben’s Basically Full Of It

Central Banking Refuted In One Blog—–Thanks Ben! by David Stockman

Blogger Ben Bernanke discovers the blogosphere can be a rough neighborhood as David Stockman rips him a new asshole. From Stockman at davidstockmanscontracorner.com:

Blogger Ben’s work is already done. In his very first substantive post as a civilian he gave away all the secrets of the monetary temple. The Bernank actually refuted the case for modern central banking in one blog.

In fact, he did it in one paragraph. This one.

A similarly confused criticism often heard is that the Fed is somehow distorting financial markets and investment decisions by keeping interest rates “artificially low.” Contrary to what sometimes seems to be alleged, the Fed cannot somehow withdraw and leave interest rates to be determined by “the markets.” The Fed’s actions determine the money supply and thus short-term interest rates; it has no choice but to set the short-term interest rate somewhere.

Not true, Ben. Why not ask the author of the 1913 Federal Reserve Act and legendary financial statesman of the first third of the 20th century—–Carter Glass.

The then Chairman of the House Banking and Currency Committee did not refer to the new reserve system as a “banker’s bank” because he was old-fashioned or unschooled in finance. The term evoked the essence of the Fed’s original mission. Namely, to passively rediscount good commercial collateral (receivables and inventory loans) brought to its window by member banks—priced at a penalty spread floating above the market rate of interest.

Notwithstanding Bernanke’s spurious claim that the Fed has to “set the short-term rate somewhere”, tIhe reserve system designed by Congressman Glass was authorized to do no such thing.It had no target for the Federal funds rate; no remit to engage in open market buying and selling of securities; and, indeed, no authority to own or discount government bonds and bills at all.

Instead, its job was to passively respond to the ebb and flow of trade and industry on main street as mediated through the commercial banking system. If business conditions were robust, interest rates would rise on the free market in order to balance the demand for working capital loans and long-term debt financing with the available supply of private savings.


To continue reading: Central Banking Refuted In One Blog