Samuelson Grades Bernanke but Omits Large Factor

January 27th, 2014 at 9:37 am

–Bernanke needed fiscal tailwinds; got headwinds: Robert Samuelson gives Ben Bernanke middling grades for his tenure at the Fed as, according to RS, the Bernanke Fed tried to do a bunch of, you know, monetary stuff, and it only sort of worked.

One always needs to be mindful of the counterfactual in these cases.  Other research that tries to imagine what would have happened in the absence of gov’t intervention (monetary and fiscal) finds pretty dramatic effects.

But the real omission in Bob’s analysis is his ignoring of austere fiscal policy that pushed hard in the opposite direction of the Fed’s monetary stimulus.  This is an especially egregious omission because Bernanke himself was constantly schnorring the Congress: “Enough already with the fiscal headwinds!”

Low interest rates set the table for greater demand by investors, homeowners, consumers.  But if premature fiscal tightening offsets that demand, the monetary stimulus is undermined.  You can’t legitimately grade Bernanke without that consideration.

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One comment in reply to "Samuelson Grades Bernanke but Omits Large Factor"

  1. Larry Signor says:

    Robert Samuelson is still exhorting a market solution to a structural problem. Ben Bernanke tried as best he could to address the structural aspect of the downturn. He may have only hit .550, but he got us thru a time very few people understood or understand now.