Bernanke assumes role of very measured chief economic cheerleader
When you think of a cheerleader personality, Ben Bernanke's cautious, monotone manner doesn't come to mind.
Yet, for lack of others, the Fed chairman has emerged as the chief cheerleader for the struggling U.S. economic recovery. Even if he is measured in his cheering.
The reason: increasing fears about a double-dip recession that could truly send the U.S. into a second Great Depression that we so narrowly avoided in 2008.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is globe-trotting from Europe to China, where he shot threes in a pickup basketball game with the locals. He's trying to get the big countries on the same page of fiscal recovery and reform, and what he's doing is important, no doubt, but he's not here, where unemployment is still near 10 percent and it looks like only government can create jobs.
President Obama is looking for someone's you-know-what to kick because of the BP oil spill crisis.
We haven't seen Larry Summers, Obama's top economic adviser, in a while and, frankly, I don't feel much better when we do.
So it has fallen to the near-laconic Bernanke, the academician from Princeton who is so cheery he became an expert on the Great Depression, to calm the fears of an American public that is worried about unemployment in the U.S., has watched stocks fall since April and looks to Europe and Asia with a worried eye.
At a speech in Washington on Monday night, Bernanke said the economy will continue to recover, but "it won't feel terrific."
"So far the news is pretty good," Bernanke said, according to the AP. "We've seen consumer coming back. We've seen firms spending more. There are some signs the private sector is picking up the baton and moving the economy forward."
In testimony on the Hill today, Bernanke worked to calm fears about the chaos that could ensue if the euro fails and the eurozone collapses, saying European leaders are "fully committed" to the euro and the E.U.
"Although the support to economic growth from fiscal policy is likely to diminish in the coming year, the incoming data suggest that gains in private final demand will sustain the recovery in economic activity," Bernanke said.
He even said that he thought troubled insurance giant AIG, which has received $47 billion in federal bailout money, would eventually repay its debt to U.S. taxpayers.
Not quite sis-boom-bah! But it's the best we got.
June 9, 2010; 12:47 PM ET
Categories: Deficit/debt , Fed Reserve
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