Bernanke Answers the Questions of "Common Americans"
When Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke went to participate in a forum held Sunday in Kansas City, the citizens welcomed him with a rally carrying signs with massages of clear indignation saying “Audit the Federal Reserve” and “Bernanke, where is our money?”. Similar rallies were going on in the week before the forum. This was an apparent proof that Mr. Bernanke was about to be confronted with questions every single common American was dying to ask, and not politely that is. In the public forum held at Kansas City Federal Reserve, the selected group of 40 people was allowed to ask Bernanke questions. The group was formed of economically and socially diverse people, but somehow non of the protesters were selected to participate. This creates doubt that complete diversity in opinions was allowed at the forum.
A number of small business owners were present at a forum and they expressed their opinions mostly stressing that Mr. Bernanke and other government officials eagerly helped big financial institutions and left small businesses behind. A third generation small business owner David Huston said he was very frustrated over the past year seeing billions of dollars sent to the large financial institutions. He cited the saying Mr. Bernanke uses oftenly talking about bailout of those large institutions calling them “Too big to fail”, and rephrased it into more accurate depiction of policy saying “Too big to fail, to small to save”. He pointed out the role of small businesses in the creation of jobs for Americans and the importance they have in the economy of small and big cities alike.
I guess the question of every small business owner is why they were not worth of saving if they are repeatedly called “the backbone of the U.S. economy”. Is it all just a part of the never ending hypocrisy coming form the government officials? Mr. Bernanke had his answers well rehearsed. He explained that they did not intervene to help the big firms when they faced collapse, but to prevent the damage it could have made to the economy in general. He said “nothing made me more frustrated, more angry, than having to intervene” when companies were “taking wild bets that had forced these companies close to bankruptcy.” He actually spoke of those actions as inevitable for preventing second Great Depression. Mr. Bernanke said he absolutely understands the frustration of small business owners, and that they are working on improving their situation. Somehow, he failed to convince majority of small business owners who did not see the results of those so called efforts in the past year.
Mr. Bernanke was also asked about his opinion of the efforts made in Congress to audit the Fed. He pointed out that the public needs to get a better understanding of the bill, saying the GAO already looks at all the Fed’s activities. He said the bill would actually allow the GAO to audit the Monetary Policy which by his opinion is not what American people would really want. The bill would endanger Fed’s independence and give Congress authority to evaluate the Fed’s decisions. He further explained they are willing to provide any information the Congress wants to make sure they are using the tax payers’ money in a safe and responsible manner. But the voice of people about the Fed’s audit is quite the opposite. They would gladly see it audited as Bernanke’s sudden appearances in the public forums defending the Fed’s independence as he calls it, are viewed as a reactions of those who have much to hide. What would actually happen if the skeletons were digged out of the closet? American people are tired of being silenced when asking about the faith of their money, and they have the right to know where all the money left.
When asked about the unemployment and when its going to peak out, Mr. Bernanke said that no precise forecast can be made on that issue. He expects the unemployment rate to peak in early 2010 and than gradually come down. He also said that even when the economy starts to grow again it will be a while before the job market bounce back.
The Fed chief’s unusual appearances on different programs are part of his campaign to reach out to the American public. With his term expiring in a few months Mr. Bernanke seems to be putting out the extra effort to explain the Fed’s actions to stabilize economy and financial markets. With his extreme actions that he defended as necessary in preventing financial catastrophe in the past year, its questionable if he managed to secure his reappointment by President Obama.