Bernanke at Brookings
by Stephen Lendman
On January 31, he stepped down as Fed chairman. Janet Yellen replaced him. He’s entering a new world of million-dollar book deals. He’ll make $100,000 a pop speeches.
Expect appointments to corporate boards. CEOs value his rainmaking services.
On February 3, Brookings headlined “Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to Join Economic Studies at Brookings.”
He’s a “Distinguished Fellow in Residence.” He’s affiliated with the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy (HCFMP). On January 16, Brookings launched it.
Its board of trustees vice chair Glenn Hutchins contributed $10 million in seed money. He co-founded the multi-billion dollar private equity firm Silver Lake Partners. Guess what type policies HCFMP will endorse.
“We are proud to welcome chairman Bernanke into the Brookings family,” said president Strobe Talbot. He’s Clinton’s former deputy secretary of state. He was directly involved in some of his worst policies.
Brookings’ agenda is brazenly imperial. It’s pro-corporate. It’s anti-populist. It feigns concern about inequality. It supports government of, by and for privileged elites alone. Expect Bernanke to fit right in.
His Fed tenure was deplorable. He betrayed the public trust. His record attests to his wickedness.
His agenda was ruthlessly anti-populist. He did more to thirdworldize America for profit than any of his predecessors.
He handed Wall Street crooks multi-trillions of dollars. He facilitated the greatest wealth transfer in history. He created a protracted Main Street Depression. No end in sight looms.
Noted investor Jeremy Grantham’s commentaries are refreshing. He cuts to the heart of issues. He pulls no punches doing so.
He titled an earlier commentary “Night of the Living Fed: Something Unbelievably Terrifying.”
He highlighted “runaway commodities, (zombi) banks back to life, homes destroyed, families evicted, and currency wars.”
He blamed Bernanke. “If I were a benevolent dictator,” he said, he’d limit the Fed solely to maintaining price stability.
He’d make sure the economy got enough liquidity to function normally. He’s “force (the Fed) to swear off manipulating asset prices through artificially low rates and asymmetric promises.”
He referred to the Greenspan/Bernanke put. He’d eliminate “immoral hazard.” It’s immoral behavior. It’s outsized excess. It’s grand theft.
It bails out large investors. Doing so encourages imprudent risks. Winning is guaranteed. Regulatory checks are absent. Anything goes is policy.
Things persist “under the guise of ‘saving the system,’ ” said Grantham. Money manipulators have things their way.
Fed chairmen are tools of monied interests. They know who butters their bread. They return favors manyfold. Greenspan did from August 1987 through January 2006.
Bernanke exceeded his worst policies. He did so from February 1, 2006 through January 31, 2014.
Both chairmen qualify as maestros of misery. They created bubble financial conditions. America’s 1% profited hugely. They did so at the expense of most others.
Virtually all global assets are overpriced. Bubble conditions exist. Grantham compared them to Einstein’s definition of insanity. The madness of repeating the same mistakes. Expecting a different outcome doesn’t work.
Last spring, Grantham compared Fed policy to beating a donkey. He called it the 1% growing economy. “(H)e keeps beating it until it either turns into a horse or drops dead from too much beating,” said Grantham.
“We’ve been conned.” We’re manipulated to believe “debt is everything.” In 1982, it was one-and-a-quarter times GDP.
It’s nearly triple that amount now. It has nothing to do with long-term growth. It’s an “accounting world. It’s paper,” said Grantham.
“The real world is the quantity and quality of your people, and the quality and quantity of capital spending.”
“Are you building new machines? Are you being inventive?” Are you educating a new generation properly?
“We’re in this death grip that only paper things matter.” Vital issues go unaddressed. Wealth keeps getting transferred “from the poor to the rich.”
Interest rates are outrageously now. They’re practically zero. Speculators benefit. Ordinary people lose out.
Retirees are deprived of vital income. Financial interests are served at the expense of the real economy.
During his tenure as Fed chairman, Bernanke handed speculators over $20 trillion. Most was practically interest free. They took full advantage.
Money printing madness defines Fed policy. Helicopter Ben dropped none on Main Street. In 2002, his helicopter money speech said:
“The US government has a technology, called a printing press (today its electronic equivalent).”
It “allows it to produce as many US dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost.”
Most circulating money is bank-generated credit. It’s created out of thin air. It’s when banks extend loans.
When old ones are repaid faster than new ones, money supply shrinks. QE is supposed to reverse things.
Things haven’t worked out this way. Key is where Fed money goes. Dropping it on Main Street stimulates economic growth.
Handing it to Wall Street crooks parks it in their reserve accounts. It’s not used for lending.
Former Reagan budget director David Stockman said it “stayed trapped in the canyons of Wall Street.” He called it “high grade monetary heroin.”
It’s “kill(ing) the patient.” It’s “legalized bank robbery.” It’s recklessly out-of-control.
It “inflate(d) yet another unsustainable bubble.” They all burst. No exceptions. This time isn’t different.
Money printing madness and bailouts reflect “the single most shameful chapter in American financial history,” said Stockman.
Bernanke operated by Abraham Maslow’s maxim. “(I)f the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail,” he said.
QE continues. It’s slowing. Yellen can rev it up full bore any time. It’s self-defeating. It contracts the money supply. It’s by sucking up collateral needed to create credit.
It constrains economic growth. It doesn’t create jobs. It solely benefits Wall Street. Banksters made out like bandits. Speculators profited hugely. They did so at the expense of Main Street.
Financial warfare rages. America and other societies are affected. Ordinary people are hurt most. Hard times keep getting harder.
QE works when used constructively. Money injected responsibly into the economy creates growth. It creates jobs. When people have money they spend it.
A virtuous cycle of prosperity follows. America once was sustainably prosperous. Today it’s in decline. It’s heading for third world status. It’s more kleptocracy than democracy.
Money power in private hands assures trouble. Ellen Brown explained more. Up to 40% of “everything we buy goes (for) interest.”
It goes to “bankers, financiers and bondholders.” A third or more of national wealth shifts from Main Street to Wall Street.
Complicit politicians let it happen. They do so for generous benefits derived. Greed is the national pastime. So is looting America for profit.
Most people think paying bills and credit card charges on time avoids interest charges. Not so, says Brown.
“Tradesmen, suppliers, wholesalers and retailers all along the chain of production rely on credit to pay their bills.”
Their costs pass on to consumers. Unwittingly they pay. Ordinary people make wealthy ones richer. They do so at their own expense. What better argument for public banking than that.
Borrowing from public banks eliminates or greatly reduces interest rate charges. It works at federal, state and local levels.
Public banks don’t have to earn profits. They’re not beholden to Wall Street or shareholders. They’re self-sustaining. They can lend for their own needs. They can do it for businesses, farmers and consumers.
The more loans roll over, the more debt-free money is created. If used productively for growth, it’s virtually inflation-free. As long as new money produces goods and services, price stability follows.
Economies flourish. All boats are lifted. Millions of high-pay/good benefit jobs can be created. Homes become more affordable. Foreclosures end. So do out-of-control speculation, booms and busts.
Private savings, pensions, and investments become secure. So do Social Security, Medicare and other vital social programs. They can be in perpetuity.
Surpluses replace deficits. Sustained prosperity follows. It’s not pie in the sky. It happened before. It can happen again.
Good policies achieve good results. Bad ones wreck things for most people. Hard times get harder. Current conditions reflect Exhibit A.
They didn’t happen by accident. Bernanke’s Fed bears full responsibility. Economist Steve Keen commented on his legacy.
“It certainly won’t be as he expected,” said Keen. He’ll likely “be blamed for causing the ‘Great Recession…’ “
He blamed his predecessors “for causing the Great Depression.”
“His finger-pointing doesn’t get any more blatant than” praising Milton Friedman on his 90th birthday. It was in 2002.
“I would like to say to Milton and Anna (Schwartz): Regarding the Great Depression. You’re right. We did it. We’re very sorry. But thanks to you, we won’t do it again.”
He’s done it and then some. The worst is yet to come.
“(I)f Ben had truly learned from both his analysis of the data and ‘Milton and Anna (Schwartz), then you’d think that surely he would have ensured that the rate of growth of M1” would never drop “to or below zero, wouldn’t you?”
That’s exactly what happened. America’s money supply is lower than when he became Fed chairman. He has no control over whether banks choose to make loans.
Doing so increases money supply growth. Holding back shrinks it. “So on Ben’s own theory of what caused the Great Depression, he could quite easily be found guilty,” said Keen.
Crisis conditions occurred on his watch. His policies were “the very things he said the Fed got wrong in the late 1920s.”
He wrote his own legacy. It won’t change now. He’s ideologically over-the-top. He’s responsible for more human wreckage than any of his predecessors.
He caused epidemic levels of poverty, unemployment and deprivation. He engineered the greatest wealth heist in world history.
He debauched the dollar. He created multiple market bubbles.
He created worse crisis conditions than in 1929.
Market analyst Yves Smith calls him Greenspan on steroids. He’ll be remembered as the economy wrecker of last resort.
He’s unapologetic. Debt pyramiding doesn’t work. Money printing madness reflects grand theft. Accountability isn’t Bernanke’s long suit.
He’s off to greener pastures. He’s cashing in for services rendered. He’ll be well rewarded for enriching Wall Street. Banksters take care of their own.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.