Bleeding Heartland user American007 noted not long ago that Time Magazine often gives its “Person of the Year” award to people attempting to deal with a weak economy. So it was this year, when Time’s editors laughably chose Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke:
The story of the year was a weak economy that could have been much, much weaker. Thank the man who runs the Federal Reserve, our mild-mannered economic overlord
I wish I were joking, but here’s more from Time:
The overriding story of 2009 was the economy – the lousiness of it, and the fact that it wasn’t far lousier. It was a year of escalating layoffs, bankruptcies and foreclosures, the “new frugality” and the “new normal.” It was also a year of green shoots, a rebounding Dow and a fragile sense that the worst is over. Even the big political stories of 2009 – the struggles of the Democrats; the tea-party takeover of the Republicans; the stimulus; the deficit; GM and Chrysler; the backlash over bailouts and bonuses; the furious debates over health care, energy and financial regulation; the constant drumbeat of jobs, jobs, jobs – were, at heart, stories about the economy. And it’s Bernanke’s economy.
In 2009, Bernanke hurled unprecedented amounts of money into the banking system in unprecedented ways, while starting to lay the groundwork for the Fed’s eventual return to normality. He helped oversee the financial stress tests that finally calmed the markets, while launching a groundbreaking public relations campaign to demystify the Fed. Now that Obama has decided to keep him in his job, he has become a lightning rod in an intense national debate over the Fed as it approaches its second century.
But the main reason Ben Shalom Bernanke is TIME’s Person of the Year for 2009 is that he is the most important player guiding the world’s most important economy. His creative leadership helped ensure that 2009 was a period of weak recovery rather than catastrophic depression, and he still wields unrivaled power over our money, our jobs, our savings and our national future. The decisions he has made, and those he has yet to make, will shape the path of our prosperity, the direction of our politics and our relationship to the world.
Reality check: Bernanke has no plan to deal with unemployment, even though the “Federal Reserve Act dictates that one of the founding directives of the Federal Reserve is to ‘promote effectively the goals of maximum employment.’”
But Bernanke is wild about cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Hooray for our “mild-mannered economic overlord”!
The Senate Banking Committee votes on Bernanke’s renomination tomorrow, and he is expected to pass. However, three senators have said they will put a hold on his renomination when it reaches the floor.
I agree that the current recession could have deepened without the federal stimulus bill, especially if we had imposed the federal spending freeze Republicans wanted. But the stimulus should have been larger and better targeted toward job creation. Bernanke doesn’t favor any additional federal stimulus to create jobs. He shouldn’t even get another term at the Fed, let alone “Person of the Year.”