Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Ben Bernanke delivered a bleak message to Congress today with the usual waffling and back door escapes on any firm statements related to the Nation’s economic future, even its near term prospects. Although, in fairness, we should note that with as much aplomb as he could magnetize from Greenspan’s past performances in front of Congress, he emphatically stated, “accurately assessing and appropriately balancing the risks to the outlook for growth and inflation is a significant challenge for monetary policy makers.” No kidding? How long did his staff stay up to come up with such vapid pronouncements?

How does someone with so little spine get to such position of power and influence? Even as a front man for back room boys he comes off badly. At least when Greenspan double-talked his way through the halls of Congress we could admire the extent of his obfuscating turn of phrase. He said nothing, but he said it with a nonchalance, even a sang-froid that made you smile in wonderment questioning if this guy was human.

America looks for leadership out of the mess it finds itself in, and the best the Fed Chief can do is warn Congress against doing anything about the futures markets, but he does tell lawmakers to tackle the uncertainty in the housing market. So now, Congress, as confused as ever, will head to the commissary for a free meal on the taxpayers, and mumble to itself over the perplexing state of affairs with no answers in sight, and no one to turn to for guidance.

Inflation continues to advance, although to what degree is unclear since it very much depends on what one measures, but the price index is expected to exceed 4%. The food staples are seeing much higher increases however, but since non-food finished goods and services are in the calculation mix, the numbers that have the most impact on the average family are distorted.

The millions of small businesses at the core of the economy are being affected by the credit crunch, but their plight is ignored while they watch major Wall Street firms getting bailed out. Have no fear though, the SEC is actively investigating the subprime meltdown, stock manipulations and short sales, as well as false rumors tainting brokerages and hedge funds. …And heads will roll. OK, well, maybe not. Effective scapegoating is an extremely difficult art to practice. Where is Eliot Spitzer when the Nation needs him?

The recent blame for the housing market deterioration placed on the hapless borrowers who indebted themselves beyond their capacities has not been very subtle. Policy makers’ only planned action is to set restrictions preventing borrowing by the great unwashed. Credit quality standards will be raised. Oh, joy. Is Congress asking the guys who ran those disasters called Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into bailout territory to return their million dollar bonuses? Congress is mute. Is anyone on The Hill or the White House raising an eyebrow over the usurious interest rates being charged by banks and credit card companies to a majority of clients? Bernanke’s tarot cards predict a late fall interest rate increase to 2.25%, which is a number as foreign to most borrowing taxpayers as the number of stars in the sky.

We cannot expect superhuman talent to accurately read crystal balls, and obviously economics is not a science, but leadership imbued with some common sense is not too much to expect from Washington and its expensive hired help. Leadership, plus some effectively placed oversight.


  1. What would be really cool is if Hillary's low profile as of late is an indication of something that would ensure that Obama gets not kind of office at all: She crosses parties and campaigns as John McCain's V.P.!

  2. Who is this guy? I love his (her?) posts! But don't expect the Mother of Capitalism to care about workers and consumers. That's the ONLY thing Karl Marx got right!

  3. g subhash

    Quite right. Capitalism is an organism that functions probably better than most alternatives, however, it is still subject to the forces that energize most human creations. Fears and frailties of the ego result in the mess America is being subjected to.

    If only we could all listen more often to that intuitive knower each of us is born.

  4. Thanks.. things could be different under Obama. For the first time, we will have a Congress beholden to special interests, and a President who is not. The fact that Obama's bankrollers are millions of ordinary individuals should lead to a departure from our traditional system of Oligarchy.