On NPR's Morning Edition on Monday, anchor Steve Inskeep welcomed a regular guest, Wall Street Journal economics editor David Wessel (from the liberal news side, not the conservative opinion-page side). The new Congress is already too "shrill" and "ugly" with libertarian argument against Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke's printing money to buy government bonds:
INSKEEP: Rand Paul is a name that got a lot of attention in the election this past Tuesday. He won a Senate seat from Kentucky. But, of course, his father, Ron Paul, ran for president a couple of years back, is still in the House, and it looks like he's going to chair the committee that oversees Ben Bernanke's Fed.
WESSEL: That's right. Ron Paul, who wrote a book called "End the Fed" - so you know what he thinks ought to happen. He'll definitely give Mr. Bernanke a hard time, but he's really seen as something of an outlier. He's a Libertarian. He doesn't believe in paper money. And I don't think many of the other Republicans are quite comfortable with that view. But it will be interesting to have him in the House and his son, a senator from Kentucky, taking a seat that was vacated by another shrill critic of the Fed, Jim Bunning. So, it will be a lot of fireworks there, I'm sure.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's first full day as the only person in the whole wide world with any kind of influence over what happens in the economy didn't go too badly.
That's the impression one might get from consuming two Friday Associated dispatches and a related AP Video.
Bernanke apparently took full charge of anything and everything having to do with the economy on Thursday evening. As noted early Friday morning (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), two Thursday afternoon dispatches from the wire service in advance of the government's Friday morning GDP report widely predicted to contain news of a significant downward revision to second-quarter economic growth placed surreal importance on the content of a speech he was to give Friday morning shortly after that report's release. The names of President Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Tim Geithner, and Larry Summers were totally absent from both reports.
Friday, in the wake of the downward revision of second-quarter GDP from an annualized 2.4% to 1.6%, AP's primary economic report about Bernanke's apparent first day as Emperor-in-Chief again failed to name the five folks just mentioned, as did a one-minute video from Mark Hamrick found here (after a 30-second commercial).
Here is some of what Christopher Rugaber, with assists from Jeannine Aversa and Alan Zibel, wrote about Ben's big day:
Sometimes you just have to chuckle at the transparent motivations of business writers in the establishment press.
Two Associated Press reports from this afternoon, one from Stephen Bernard and another much lengthier piece from Jeannine Aversa, attempt to set the template for Friday morning's reportage: Despite all the bad news, including a serious downward revision to second-quarter economic growth, it's up to Big Ben Bernanke to calm everyone down, and magically return the economy to some kind of even keel.
OK - it's not really much of a surprise. However, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has responded to the slowing economic recovery with restraint, not tinkering with interest rates and showing a continued willingness to buy mortgage-backed securities and long-term Treasury bonds. And that was roundly applauded by the markets, and CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer.
"Here's what you need to know about the Fed," Cramer said. "They're not in the way. I'm a Fed-is-friend, Fed-is-foe guy."
On CNBC's Aug. 10 "Street Signs," during his "Stop Trading" segment, Cramer explained that the Fed is acting appropriately and noted it wasn't the Bernanke that was holding the economy back. Who is to blame? It's Congress, according to Cramer, with its complicated health care bill and even more indecipherable financial regulation bill.
While appearing before Congress, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was asked by newly-elected Rep. Charles Djou (R-Hawaii) whether or not the federal government has a plan to tackle the continuing financial crisis. Check out his answer:
If you believe polls, current Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke favorability has been slipping. A recent Rasmussen Reports poll indicates that only 21 percent of Americans favor his reappointment as the Fed chair.
And this hasn't gone unnoticed by some members of the Senate, where Bernanke's fate lies. Bernanke's reconfirmation passed through the Senate Banking Committee by a 16-to-7 vote on Dec. 17. But that margin calls into question how his reconfirmation vote on the Senate floor could go. And as CNBC "The Kudlow Report" host Larry Kudlow warned, that puts his reconfirmation in question.
"Look, ‘Helicopter' Ben passed the Senate Banking Committee vote on his reconfirmation," Kudlow said on his Dec. 17 program. "He got 16-to-7, but he lost seven votes. I think all the Republicans except Sen. Bob Corker voted against Bernanke, and they were joined by one Democrat, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon. Now the reconfirmation goes to the floor of the Senate. So, I think Bernanke's reconfirmation could be in some trouble when that Senate vote occurs. I'm going to bet that most, if not all, of the 40 Republicans are going to vote against Bernanke and that they are going to be joined by a number of Democrats."
This is sure to annoy Ron Paul fans. Time editor Richard Stengel announced this morning on NBC's Today that Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke is Time's 2009 Person of the Year. Stengel called him the "most powerful, least understood" government official and a real force in the economy.
Political timing may have helped. Matt Lauer joked that Bernanke goes to Capitol Hill tomorrow about his reappointment to the Fed, and he should just hold the Time cover up and say they have to vote for him now. Time could feel their choice helped shape the news, not just followed the news.
Stengel suggested Bernanke "hasn't stepped up for full employment" in the bad economy. He also suggested Barack Obama "could be Person of the Year every year," but not this year.
Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were both implausible choices with the health-care bills still swirling around inconclusively. Either choice certainly would have looked like a vote for the Democrats on health care, but they also threatened to look silly if they couldn't actually get the job done for liberals.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal came in second behind Bernanke. This might suggest that Time's comfortable naming the troops as Persons of the Year, as they did a few years ago, but doesn't really want to salute the generals too much.
In late September, Florida Congressional Democrat Alan Grayson earned attention and apparently fawning support from the far left by describing the Republican Party's health care plan, as "1. Don't get sick; 2. And if you do get sick, 3. die quickly."
Grayson's supposed apology for these over-the-top remarks on the House Floor -- remarks that would surely have earned him censure and relentless media coverage had he been a Republican criticizing a Democrat -- consisted of saying, as paraphrased by Clay Waters of NewsBusters, that his "remorse was not for Republicans, rather for the dead .... comparing the existing health care system to the Holocaust."
Little did we know that in September, Grayson made himself a House ogre with his floor remarks, he hurled a grievously sexist and offensive insult at a senior Federal Reserve adviser. Wait until you see what he called Linda Robertson on the apparently syndicated but apparently lightly heeded Alex Jones show (relevant audio begins at about 0:35 of the 1:43 YouTube video; Warning - Objectionable language follows):
It came and went - and some might not have even noticed it - despite the seriousness of its use. On April 2, CNBC's Jim Cramer proclaimed the Depression over.
Throughout that day, the "Mad Money" host told viewers of MSNBC's "Morning Joe," CNBC's "Street Signs" and finally on his own program that the Depression was over and that we were on the verge of a bull run for the financial markets.
"We have reached the land of a thousand bull dances - phoney maroney, why? Because the market swallowed its Prozac," Cramer said on CNBC's "Mad Money" April 2. "And right now, right here on this show - I am announcing the Depression over!"
Business and Media Institute's Dan Gainor appeared on Fox Business News "Money for Breakfast" March 17 to discuss the Obama economic team's performance in the administration's first 50 days.
Gainor dubbed Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner "the worst" because "when he came out and talked about the housing plan that he didn't have, the markets tanked."
Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve Chairman, earned a "B-minus," partly because "he showed his strength on Sunday" during a "60 Minutes" interview. Director of the White House's National Economic Council Larry Summers received a "C grade" for being "not great, not horrible."
When Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks, Wall Street listens - and investors should beware. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) has lost over 2,500 points on days he has spoken, including three of the worst point losses ever.
Today's drop in the Dow of 215 points is the 14th time out of the last 20 times the Dow has lost ground on a Bernanke has spoken over the past six months. Bernanke gave a speech at the Federal Reserve System Conference on Housing and Mortgage Markets in Washington today, where he continued to hammer the message the economy is in bad shape.
"The U.S. financial system has been in turmoil during the past 16 months," Bernanke said. "Credit conditions have tightened and asset values have declined, contributing substantially, in turn, to the weakening of economic activity."
Are the good folks at the New York Times breaking ranks and actually criticizing a decision by president-elect Barack Obama?
Such seemed to be the case Tuesday when the Gray Lady published, on the front page of the business section no less, an article highly critical of proposed Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
Entitled "Where Was Geithner in Turmoil?", Andrew Ross Sorkin's piece actually pointed fingers at Obama's choice to head the Treasury department for his potential involvement in the nation's current financial crisis (emphasis added throughout):
For years NewsBusters and its affiliate the Business & Media Institute have agonized over the astounding economic ignorance of many press members who despite their lack of financial acumen have the gall to offer their unqualified opinions to the public.
No finer example of a media member who should understand her limitations and keep her mouth shut during economic discussions was the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Cynthia Tucker Sunday morning who on ABC's "This Week" actually said that all the problems in the financial services industry would have magically disappeared if only the Bush administration would have bailed out individual homeowners.
Maybe more interesting was that she began her nonsensical accusation by saying, "I've never understood." As this was the most accurate statement she made concerning this matter, she should have stopped there.
Gee, and I thought I might be pushing the envelope on September 28 when I expressed concern that the "bailout" with the made-up $700 billion price tag that turned into the pork-loaded "bailout" with the made-up $850 billion price tag "blackmail" (though "extortion" may be the more appropriate word).
It is clear that this is indeed the case, at least twice over. First, there were the threats made by the Treasury Secretary, the President, and the Fed Chairman warning of a banking Armageddon if Congress didn't pass the bill.
Now there's clear evidence, reported with stunning casualness by CNBC, that Paulson & Co. threatened the big banks in some way to force them to "accept" Uncle Sam's preferred equity investments:
As a result of the stock market collapse in the last four weeks, the economy has become the most important issue on the minds of voters.
Yet, as Barack Obama has clearly benefitted in the polls during this period, the media have refused to examine the records of the two presidential candidates as it pertains to policy proposals they have recommended or supported that might have averted this crisis.
Is this because John McCain has clearly been more out in front of this issue than Obama, and if the press actually did their job and told the American people this it might negatively impact the junior senator from Illinois's campaign?
Consider what McCain said during Tuesday's debate after being asked a question by Tom Brokaw concerning the condition of the economy (photo courtesy ABCNews.com):
The shock and awe of the financial market meltdown is just beginning according to CNBC star Jim Cramer.
Cramer on CNBC's Sept. 29 "Mad Money" cautioned viewers about the current market. His advice - do nothing because there's more pain to come if no rescue plan makes it out of Congress. As he put it: "sit on your hands."
"Only those stocks that are sure enough to pull the trigger on until we get to Dow 8,200 ... I said if the plan failed - only those you should be looking at - looking at," Cramer said. "Today's 777-point drop was just the beginning. Now is not the time to put your money at risk, it's the time to protect your nest egg."
Cramer recommended only stocks of companies that didn't need to borrow money in an environment with tough credit and sold products that would still be in demand during a bad economy - a very narrow spectrum of stocks. Otherwise, he told viewers to put their money in FDIC-insured banking accounts.
"He is a guy that doesn't get regular coal - I'm giving him high-sulfur stinky coal," Cramer said. "He is in the end an academic who is over his head frankly. I hate to say that. He's a volunteer official who is trying to do his best. But he had his chance and he's lost it."