The Bernanke Debriefing

Posted by Mark Jasayko, CFA, Portfolio Manager

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McIver Wealth Management Consulting Group / Richardson GMP Limited
Ben Bernanke’s Ride as Federal Reserve Chairman

Ben Bernanke, the retiring Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board in the U.S., did his best to fight the notion that he was preconditioned to be “dovish.”  This might have been an attempt to challenge the nickname of “Helicopter Ben” given to him after a speech in November 2002 where he suggested that if the U.S. faced deflation, the Fed could always resort to dropping money from helicopters.

To give him credit, Bernanke held back temptations to excessively expand the money supply at the beginning of his appointment.  In fact, he was known for downplaying growing concerns rather than automatically responding by increasing liquidity. During this phase he famously said that the Subprime mortgage crisis was “contained, suggesting that we should worry about (Although the Fed’s inability to forecast the crisis was also a contributing factor to his initial reaction).

Finally, when the Global Credit Crisis and the Great Recession hit, Bernanke caved in and has never looked back, reaffirming the reasons as to why the name “Helicopter Ben” fit him so well.

Just as Bernanke was given some benefit of the doubt, Janet Yellen is getting some similar treatment from many investors in the market.  Honeymoons tend to be like that.  However, when people face pressure, they mostly revert back to old habits and beliefs.

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