In email, Jared Bernstein says that we should all praise Ben Bernanke--while we still feel like doing so:
Feelin’ the Love: You got to give it up to Ben Bernanke. Here are four reasons why:
- He strives for clarity: he eschews Greenspan-speak and seems to really value transparency. By signaling markets what the Fed is thinking about, this avoids unnecessary surprises.
- He paused. Even though inflation was outside his comfort zone, he and the Open Market Committee recently paused after 17 straight rate hikes, recognizing a) the lags in terms of interest rate hikes on real activity, and b) the danger from over-tightening.
- He said this the other day: “I try not to forget what underlies all those data: millions of Americans working hard, trying to better themselves economically, struggling to manage their family finances, and worrying about the price of gas and college tuition.”
- He has a pretty reasonable and balanced view re the minimum wage, rare for someone in his position. He recently commented: "a modest increase in the minimum wage would likely have only a small effect on labor costs for the economy as a whole and therefore a small effect on overall inflation… Economists disagree about whether increases in the minimum wage are well-targeted toward lower-income people and whether increases in the minimum wage reduce employment of low-wage workers.”
Not a ringing endorsement, but he sounds pretty open-mined about it.
He’s probably got some tough sledding ahead, what with the housing bust, external imbalances, and geo-political mishigos (and its impact on energy prices, a very tough itch for the Fed Reserve to scratch). So I thought I’d send him some love while I was feeling it.