Is Congress the ‘enabler’ of a loose Fed?

May 22, 2013

We heard it more than once at today’s hearing of the Joint Economic Committee featuring Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke: the central bank’s low interest rate policies are allowing Congress to delay tough decisions on long-term spending.

What to expect from Bernanke testimony and Fed minutes this week

May 20, 2013

Financial markets this will be keenly focused on congressional testimony from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and minutes from the central bank’s April 30-May 1 meeting, particularly given a thin data calendar. The latter may be the more interesting one, since it will offer hints into how far Fed officials are leaning in a direction of curbing the pace of its bond-buying stimulus, potentially late this summer.

Don’t call it a target: The thing about nominal GDP

March 27, 2013

Ask top Federal Reserve officials about adopting a target for non-inflation adjusted growth, or nominal GDP, and they will generally wince. Proponents of the awkwardly-named NGDP-targeting approach say it would be a more powerful weapon than the central bank’s current approach in getting the U.S.economy out of a prolonged rut.

Bernanke on Sen. Warren and too big to fail banks: ‘I agree with her 100 percent’

March 22, 2013

I asked Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke during his quarterly press conference this week if the central bank had its own estimate for the implicit subsidy that banks considered too big to fail receive in the form of cheaper borrowing. Senator Elizabeth Warren had confronted him at a recent hearing with a Bloomberg estimate of $83 billion which itself was derived from an IMF study. At the time, he dismissed her concern: “That’s one study Senator, you don’t know if that’s an accurate number.”

Is Ben Bernanke becoming a closet Democrat?

March 11, 2013


Watching Ben Bernanke testify before Congress in recent years, it’s hard to shake the feeling that this is a Fed Chairman who has been largely abandoned by his own party. Hearing after hearing, Bernanke receives steady support and praise Democrats for his efforts to stimulate a fragile economic recovery – and takes constant heat from Republicans for what they perceive as the possible dangers of low interest rates.

Bernanke: The quickest way to raise rates is to keep them low

March 5, 2013

That’s not a typo in the headline. In a recent speech that took some mental gymnastics to absorb, Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke countered critics of his low rates policy by arguing that a loose monetary policy is the best way to ensure rates can rise to more normal levels.

Bernanke’s Senate tone not that of Fed Chairman seeking third term

February 26, 2013

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke may be keeping quiet about his future plans, but he sure doesn’t sound like someone planning to seek Senate support for a third term at the helm of the U.S. central bank.

Will the Fed adopt thresholds for bond buys?

January 30, 2013

Tim Ahmann contributed to this post

Suddenly top Wall Street firms are talking about the possibility that the Fed might adopt numerical thresholds for asset purchases, in the same way it has done with interest rates more broadly.

Japan finally takes Bernanke-san’s advice – 10 years later

January 8, 2013

This post was based on reporting by Leika Kihara in Tokyo

Japan has crossed the monetary rubicon: the government is actively intervening in the affairs of the central bank, pressuring it to more aggressively tackle a prolonged bout of deflation and economic stagnation. The Bank of Japan is expected to discuss raising its inflation target from the current 1 percent level during its next rate decision on January 21-22.

Fed’s numerical thresholds are a bad idea: Goldman’s Hatzius

December 12, 2012

Updates with Fed decision

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday took the unprecedented step of tying its low rate policy directly to unemployment, saying it will keep rates near rock bottom until the jobless rate falls to 6.5 percent. That’s as long as inflation, the other key parameter of policy, does not exceed 2.5 percent.