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What Bernanke Should Have Said

“The idea of embarrassing your opponent or messing up a press conference or even rattling your opponent always comes up.” -George Artz

If you’re not an econwonk you may not be aware of this; Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, gave a news conference last week. This is the first time a Fed chair has ever given a news conference. You see, if Bernanke wakes up on the wrong side of the bed one morning and snipes at an intern, markets all over the world crash. Not really the sort of power that yields itself well at a press conference.

Since Bernanke couldn’t say what he probably wanted to say (for fear of causing an entire collapse of financial markets, launching of nuclear war, and raising the zombie dead) Ezra Klein, over at the Washington Post, has published Bernanke’s preferred remarks.

“Good afternoon. This is a strange moment for me. As most of you know, I’m the first Federal Reserve chairman in history to give a news conference. I’m not doing it because I want to. I recognize that the likely outcome of this effort is that I’ll accidentally say “contraction” when I mean “expansion,” Matt Drudge will put up a siren, CNBC will go to Defcon 5, and the Dow will fall by a 1,000 points — all before I’m able to correct myself in the next sentence. Most of you are wolves who would happily crash the economy in return for a Nielsen point — particularly you, Maria — and my predecessors were probably right to ignore you.

We were the folks who had both the power and the responsibility to pop the credit bubble before it enveloped the entire economy. I wasn’t the guy in charge then, but it’s not like I saw it coming. I think we did a better job once the financial crisis began. You folks have no idea how bad things would’ve gotten if I hadn’t broken every rule in the Federal Reserve’s Big Book o’ Don’ts. Half of what I did was arguably illegal. And, if I’m being honest, the biggest mistake I made was not stretching the law further and keeping Lehman from going under. Damn Lehman.”

You should really read the whole thing.



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