Monday, November 24, 2008

Bernanke and the Federal Reserve

Day in and day out for the past few weeks, there've been announcements of actions taken by our government and by the Federal Reserve to deal with the economic crisis. I've gotten pretty much numb to the extraordinariness of it all. Ho Hum. We're bailing out Citibank today.

This blurb from a piece on Ben Bernanke in the Dec. 1 edition of The New Yorker lists a bunch of Fed actions, and seeing them all strung together this way is staggering :

But since the market for subprime mortgages collapsed, in the summer of 2007, the growing financial crisis has forced Bernanke to intervene on Wall Street in ways never before contemplated by the Fed. He has slashed interest rates, established new lending programs, extended hundreds of billions of dollars to troubled financial firms, bought debt issued by industrial corporations such as General Electric, and even taken distressed mortgage assets onto the Fed’s books. (In March, to facilitate the takeover by J. P. Morgan of Bear Stearns, a Wall Street investment bank that was facing bankruptcy, the Fed acquired twenty-nine billion dollars’ worth of Bear Stearns’s bad mortgage assets.) These moves hardly amount to a Marxist revolution, but, in the eyes of many economists, including supporters and opponents of the measures, they represent a watershed in American economic and political history. Ben Bernanke, who seemed to have been selected as much for his predictability as for his economic expertise, is now engaged in the boldest use of the Fed’s authority since its inception, in 1913.

1 comment:

Scooter said...

And it's all happening on a "conservative's" watch. Bush never ran as a small-govenment guy but this is just staggering. Many on the right bemoan the Republican tendency to govern (read spend) as Democrat Lite: We can do the same things but more cheaply and more efficiently.

Bologna: nothing Lite about it.