Did you see Ben Bernanke’s testimony before the House Budget Committee on Wednesday? It was quite a show. Bernanke seems to believe that if he just keeps on repeating the same mantras over and over that somehow they will become true. Bernanke insists that the economy is getting much better, that quantitative easing will lower long-term interest rates, that all of this money printing by the Federal Reserve is not causing inflation and that the Fed knows exactly what needs to be done to dramatically reduce unemployment inside the United States. So is anyone out there still actually buying what Bernanke is selling? Sure, a handful of people in the mainstream media still have complete faith in Bernanke. But for the rest of us, it is becoming increasingly clear that there is something really “off” about Bernanke. So just what is going on with him? Is he lying to all of us on purpose? Could he be insane? Is he just completely and totally incompetent?
Bernanke’s track record of failure is absolutely stunning. Before discussing some of his most recent comments, let’s review some of the pearls of wisdom that Bernanke has shared with us in recent years….
2005: “House prices have risen by nearly 25 percent over the past two years. Although speculative activity has increased in some areas, at a national level these price increases largely reflect strong economic fundamentals.”
2005: “We’ve never had a decline in house prices on a nationwide basis. So, what I think what is more likely is that house prices will slow, maybe stabilize, might slow consumption spending a bit. I don’t think it’s gonna drive the economy too far from its full employment path, though.”
2006: “Housing markets are cooling a bit. Our expectation is that the decline in activity or the slowing in activity will be moderate, that house prices will probably continue to rise.”
2007: “At this juncture, however, the impact on the broader economy and financial markets of the problems in the subprime market seems likely to be contained. In particular, mortgages to prime borrowers and fixed-rate mortgages to all classes of borrowers continue to perform well, with low rates of delinquency.”
2007: “It is not the responsibility of the Federal Reserve – nor would it be appropriate – to protect lenders and investors from the consequences of their financial decisions.”
2008: “The Federal Reserve is not currently forecasting a recession.”
So should we believe anything that Bernanke is saying now?
Of course not.
Obviously Bernanke has been feeding us all a whole bunch of nonsense for a very long time.
So what conclusion should we come to about Bernanke at this point?
Well, as I see it, there are three primary alternatives….
1 – Bernanke knows that what he is telling us is wrong and he is purposely trying to deceive us. That would make him a liar.
2 – Bernanke actually believes what he is saying because he is completely delusional. That would make him a lunatic.
3– Bernanke actually believes what he is saying because he simply does not understand economics. This would make him completely and totally incompetent.
In any event, someone with Bernanke’s track record should not still have such a high level job. He should have been asked to resign long, long ago.
But instead, Obama nominated him for another term and he was approved by our incompetent Congress.
It is a crazy world in which we live.
So what is Bernanke saying now?
Let’s take a look at some of his main points…..
Bernanke Says That One Of The Main Goals Of Quantitative Easing Is To Reduce Long-Term Interest Rates
During one interview about QE2, Bernanke made the following statement….
“The money supply is not changing in any significant way. What we’re doing is lowering interest rates by buying Treasury securities.”
In fact, Bernanke elaborated on that point during his remarks on Wednesday….
Conventional monetary policy easing works by lowering market expectations for the future path of short-term interest rates … By comparison, the Federal Reserve’s purchases of longer-term securities do not affect very short-term interest rates, which remain close to zero, but instead put downward pressure directly on longer-term interest rates. With the Fed funds rate at the zero bound, the Fed had to resort to unconventional policy to provide further accommodation.
So how is all that working out?
The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes has risen from 2.49 percent back in November to 3.65 percent at the close of business on Wednesday.
Long-term interest rates were supposed to go down as a result of quantitative easing, but instead they have increased substantially.
Looks like Bernanke was wrong about another one.
Bernanke Says That Quantitative Easing Is Not Going To Cause Inflation
The price of wheat has roughly doubled since last summer, the price of corn has roughly doubled since last summer and the price of oil is marching up towards $100 a barrel.
But oh, there is no inflation so there is no need to worry according to Bernanke.
Food riots are breaking out around the globe, but Bernanke says that the inflation in those countries is being caused by their own central banks.
Bernanke says that the Federal Reserve has nothing to do with international inflation even though the U.S. dollar is the primary reserve currency of the world.
Bernanke says that even though consumers are seeing huge price increases in the supermarket and at the gas pump that we aren’t really seeing any real inflation because the fraudulent U.S. consumer price index says so.
It is a wonder that anyone still considers this guy to be credible.
Bernanke Says That Quantitative Easing Is Helping The Economy Recover And Is Reducing Unemployment
During his remarks on Wednesday, Bernanke said that the recent decline in the U.S. unemployment rate was “grounds for optimism”.
And, of course, he is glad to take part of the credit for the “recovery”.
Things are getting better?
As I wrote about a few days ago, the “decline” in the U.S. unemployment rate during January to 9.0% is no reason to celebrate.
First of all, the U.S. economy must add 150,000 jobs each month just to keep up with population growth.
During January, the U.S. economy only added 36,000 jobs.
So why did the unemployment rate go down?
Well, the U.S. government said that 504,000 American workers “dropped out of the labor force” in January.
Well, isn’t that convenient.
Let’s just pretend a half million unemployed workers are not even there.
Yeah, that will make the numbers look better!
Sadly, the number of Americans that are “not in the labor force” but that would like a job right now has hit an all-time record high. If you add all of those people into the official unemployment figure it would jump to 12.8%.
The truth is that the employment situation in America is not getting any better. In fact, according to Gallup, the unemployment rate actually increased to 9.8% at the end of January.
Perhaps Bernanke should reconsider how much “better” things are really getting.
Bernanke Says That Now Is Not The Time To Reduce The Deficit
When it comes to the national debt, Ben Bernanke is constantly talking out of both sides of his mouth.
Bernanke is constantly saying that the exploding U.S. national debt is very dangerous (and he is very right about that point), but Bernanke also says that now is definitely not the time to do anything about it.
In fact, recently Bernanke has been purposely stepping into the partisan debate about whether to raise the debt ceiling or not.
Bernanke says that Republicans should stand down and that now is not the time to be playing political games with the debt ceiling. Bernanke has been warning that the consequences for not raising the debt ceiling could be catastrophic….
“We do not want to default on our debts. It would be very destructive.”
Over and over Bernanke has been saying that the economic recovery is still fragile and that now is not the time be cutting deeply into the federal budget.
So when is the right time?
Well, with these central bankers it seems like it is never time to address all of this debt. It seems like they always want us to “have a long-term plan” to tackle the debt in the future but to keep borrowing and spending in the present.
Well, it looks like that is exactly what the Obama administration plans to keep doing. This year it is being projected that the U.S. government will have the biggest budget deficit ever recorded – approximately 1.5 trillion dollars.
Keep in mind that the total U.S. national debt did not surpass 1.5 trillion dollars until the mid-1980s.
That means that this year we will accumulate more debt than we did for over the first 200 years that this nation was in existence.
Oh, but according to Bernanke we better not do anything to address our out of control debt because that would “harm the economic recovery”.
In the end, all of this government debt is going to become so monstrous that it is going to swallow us whole. We can try to keep running from it, but we can’t hide. Someday the gigantic debt monster that we have created is going to catch up with us.
So, yes, there are a whole lot of reasons to be really upset with Ben Bernanke.
Perhaps he would be a fun guy to sit down and talk to at a backyard barbecue, but he isn’t the type of person that you would want to entrust with any real responsibility, and he most definitely is not someone that should be running the largest economy in the history of the planet.