Nearly three-quarters of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll supported President Barack Obama’s nomination of Ben Bernanke, who on Thursday was confirmed to a second four-year term as Federal Reserve chairman.
Before his confirmation Thursday, critics had said Bernanke, a Republican appointed chairman by President George W. Bush in 2006, must be held accountable for policies that led to the financial crisis and more recently have bailed out Wall Street at the expense of ordinary Americans.
Supporters credit Bernanke with rescuing the economy as it plunged toward a depression.
Roughly 590 readers participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted Jan. 25 and 26.
Should Ben Bernanke be Federal Reserve chairman for a second term?
How would you grade Bernanke’s overall performance in his first term?
Bernanke, ever fearful of inflation, was a little late to reduce rates and start priming the pump. But considering the magnitude of the problems that unfolded and the lack of precedent, I think he has done a masterful job. Credit where credit is due! He gets my vote for another term. And blame where blame is due! The liberal members of Congress who forced banks to make mortgage loans to those who could not afford to repay them, and to a much smaller extent Wall Street, who came up with new ways to repackage and resell the worthless paper the banks were forced to underwrite.
—George Thomas, Ogden
I feel that during the crisis, continuity of an experienced and active person is needed. In consideration of the job, an A is impossible, but I think he earned a B. This year, he will need to join the rest of Obama’s cabinet to extend the aid to help the unemployed. I wonder if the Republicans will continue to refuse to help the working class, and subsidizing the rich.
—Ingo H. Leubner, Crystallization Consulting
We have been very fortunate to have Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve during this financial crisis. He is an acknowledged expert on what went wrong during the Great Depression and has used that knowledge to stabilize our economy and now will use that knowledge rebuild our economy. The problems we face are the result of misguided changes in U.S. government policy since about 1985 and a lack of understanding about economic policy by Congress and the general public. Members of Congress and the general public need to stop blaming people like Ben Bernanke for our problems and hold themselves and their elected representatives responsible for this economic crisis. As Benjamin Franklin once said to the signers of the Declaration of Independence, "Gentlemen, we must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."
Who could have done better? Certainly not any of the grandstanding senators.
—Jim Haefner, Pittsford
Bernanke lacks foresight. He let derivatives get out of control. He failed to see the deteriorating qualities of mortgages being underwritten and be repackaged and sold to investors. He protected the big banks when xxxx hit the fan. Pushing the fed fund rate to near zero percent basically means shuffling profits into the banks at the expense of retirees and people live on interest income. Sure you can say Bernanke inherited the problems from Greenspan. If he has insight, he still had plenty of opportunities in steering the financial Titanic away from the iceberg. We need proactive leadership at the central bank instead of reactive leadership in times of uncertainty.
—Patrick Ho, Rochester Optical
I remember seeing an article when Greenspan was about to step down. It was an economist who was hoping they wouldn’t pick Bernanke because of his incompetence. His expertise is in the Great Depression. I believe he is only slightly better than the economist feared and may have been the right guy to lead us through failure as that is what he understands. Now we need someone who understands success. Never forget that if you lay all economists end-to-end, they still can’t reach a conclusion.
—Bill Lanigan, Chamberlin Rubber
Washington politicians are looking to blame the U.S. economic problems on Fed Chairman Bernanke when he played a central role in keeping us out of what could have been a much, much worse recession. Unfortunately, it seems many voters can’t see through the bull—- the politicians are shoveling.
Mr. Bernanke does indeed warrant a second term. The knee-jerk reaction of some to have him replaced ignores the fact that the problem(s) were long in the making and, although Mr. Bernanke should have noticed the extent of the problems, he by no means is totally responsible for the melt down. BTY, turning him out now won’t make the problem any better and may make it worse as a new chairman would only try to make a big splash with what may be too bold a move. Common sense should prevail, I think and Mr. Bernanke should be given the opportunity to make the corrections to financial practices that he has initiated. We have seen modest recovery. Let’s see if Mr. Bernanke can make the recovery more permanent once the Obama largess has evaporated.
At this moment in the recovery, we need continuity. Bernanke provides this. He may not be the greatest Fed Chair in recent history but he is a steady hand and the key will be what the Fed does with interest rates in the future.
—Robert Zinnecker, Penfield
Recovery from the Great Depression in the 1930s took years. Bernanke, with the help of others, got us back in months.
—Don Adair, Adair Law Firm, LLP
He is part of the problem; he does not have a clue other than doing the bidding of Obama to keep his job.
I do not think that Bernanke is the be-all of financial leaders, but to replace him at this point might be catastrophic for recession recovery. If Bernanke does not get another term, he becomes a lame duck through the period of time when the country seeks the right person, which could be a long time, given the difficulty of the task and the undoubted partisan politicking that would accompany the process. During this lame-duck period, our fragile economy could be endangered of reversing its recovery, which would lead to disaster, perhaps the depression we so narrowly avoided. So I say let’s let Bernanke finish what he has started to reset our economy, and at least begin the process of seeking a successor, if Bernanke is unsuccessful in his second term.
—Hutch Hutchison, In T’Hutch Ltd.
If Ben Bernanke had not done what he did to keep our economy moving, we would be in the second Great Depression instead of a large recession. And our economic woes would have lasted 10 years instead of 2+ years.
—Dyke Smith, Dyke Smith and Associates
Though I think some of the Fed’s policies contributed to the economic crisis, I think Bernanke’s response to the crisis has been very good. He has shown he has great leadership skills and that he’s a smart man. I think it would be disruptive to change leadership at this stage.
Not having all of the facts necessary to make a proper evaluation of Bernanke’s performance, I’m left with trying to assess the judgment of knowledgeable professionals. On this basis, Bernanke has made blunders – yet he also seems to have initiated some positive calls. I would give him a midterm grade of B. I hope he earns an A at the end of the final term.
—Jim Doyle, Newark
He was part of the "Brain Trust" that brought us this recession. He hasn’t shown any understanding of what the Fed did wrong. (Interest rates that were too low, for too long.) We need a new approach, but he won’t provide it. Unfortunately, anyone that Obama would bring in as a replacement will be probably continue the same policies or worse. So maybe it doesn’t matter if he stays.
—Dennis Ditch, Delta Square, Inc.
If Alan Greenspan endorses Ben Bernanke, so do I.
The Fed did not cause the problems we’re in. The previous administration allowed the big banks to eliminate their reserves so that they could invest in risky mortgages. Had the SEC monitored the banks’ reserves the recession would have been minor.
(c) 2010 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.