Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke may have been Time magazine’s Man of the Year, but he hasn’t convinced senators he’s the man for the job, with Democratic Senators Barbara Boxer of California and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin voicing their concern about Bernanke’s nomination by President Obama to continue to serve as Fed Chairman.
In a statement, Sen. Feingold outlined his concerns regarding Bernanke’s nomination:
“A chief responsibility of the Chairman of the Federal Reserve is to ensure a sound financial system. Under the watch of Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve permitted grossly irresponsible financial activities that led to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Under Chairman Bernanke’s watch predatory mortgage lending flourished, and ‘too big to fail’ financial giants were permitted to engage in activities that put our nation’s economy at risk. And as it responds to the crisis it helped to usher in, the Federal Reserve under Chairman Bernanke’s leadership continues to resist appropriate efforts to review that response, how taxpayers’ money was being used, and whether it acted appropriately. When the full Senate considers his nomination, I will vote against another term for Chairman Bernanke.”
Tellingly, Wall Street executives predicted a dire market reaction if Bernanke’s confirmation fails. “A decision to kill the Bernanke nomination will cause a large and disturbing upset in global financial markets,” said economist Joseph Brusuelas. “Not just equities, but the dollar and interest rates will be immediately impacted.” Wall Street lobbyists in Washington said they were quietly making the case for Bernanke on Capitol Hill but were hamstrung by the politics. Because Bernanke has been criticized as too close to Wall Street, they said, the surest way to seal his fate would be for financial lobbyists to make a full court press to save his nomination.
The fact that Wall Street executives and lobbyists are putting on the full court press to save Ben Bernanke’s nomination as Chairman of the Fed speaks volumes about who he’s really looking out for.