Crowdsourcing Questions for the First Press Conference by a Fed Chairman Tomorrow

Readers may know that tomorrow at 2:30 PM, Ben Bernanke is hosting the first press conference ever held by a Federal Reserve chairman ever. It’s remarkable that an official widely described as “the second most powerful person in America” has managed to sidestep basic measures of accountability to the public and transparency like this for so long.

We are participating in an effort spearheaded by the Dylan Ratigan show to crowdsource questions for reporters tomorrow. Please post your suggested questions in comments below. Members of the Twitterati, please use hashtag #FedSpeaks to tag your question.

I’d like to toss in the question I posed to Larry Summers:

Given the extraordinary level of support extended to major banks during the crisis and now, via measures like super low interest rates and continued regulatory forbearance, why does the Fed continue to maintain the fiction that they are private companies? Why doesn’t the Fed treat them as humble utilities and regulate them accordingly?


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. tz

    Why are you accepting junk – paper with market value a fraction of what you are loaning – but only for your crony banker friends? There are plenty of people who could use a national pawn shop so when are they going to have access to cash for (physical) trash?

  2. Dean Sayers

    The Federal Reserve has a history of allowing unemployment to rise in order to theoretically lower the cost of labor and spur investment. Critics have argued that the Fed has ignored unemployment recently, in direct conflict with its stated role to limit unemployment. What would you say to these accusations? Why haven’t we seen significant improvement in employment recently?

    1. Frank A.

      Agree, the only appropriate questions are those that explore the depths (or shallows, as it were) of his shame. After all, this is the guy who grew up poor in a small South Carolina town. All that he has done and allowed to be done is on him and his conscience. Asking technical questions only allows him to continue his sanctimonious, neoliberal bull shit. He should NOT be afforded any dignity whatsoever.

      1. Anonymous Comment

        I don’t believe in shaming people, because it is negative motivation. And really, if you think of it ‘bad’ people feel no shame. Look at Bernie Madoff, he doesn’t seem so ashamed. Beyond that, shaming creates a block to moving forward… and what we really want is to move forward, right?

        But I can see where you are coming from with this. In the same vein I would ask:

        Mr. Chairman, what do you think of the unintended consequence and moral outrage of the public in watching you and your peers apparently rewarding the villains in a grand plot to apparently swindle their pensions and their homes? Does it seem justified to you that people perceive a grave imbalance in the system? How do you propose to correct that imbalance? Thank you.

        1. Further Comment

          Not that I am implying that anyone in particular is ‘bad’… just that if they were… they wouldn’t feel shame.

  3. Tom Crowl

    Mr. Bernanke,

    An ancient historian (Plutarch) once said:“An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.”

    Do you believe the FED’s actions whether considered over the last few decades or the last few years have contributed to an imbalance?
    Do you track the metric?
    Does it play a role in your decisions?
    Do you agree with the assertion that its problematic?

    Do you believe that alleged neutrality could ever be perhaps not quite all it could be?

    Do you believe the TBTF banks are handling things well?

    Do you believe citizens can communicate and/or negotiate with a 19 year-old phone bank operator as well as with a bona-fide holder of a note and mortgage with skin in the game and a motive NOT to destroy the value in the asset?

    Would there be any personal relief in maybe just admitting you really aren’t too sure about what you’re doing and blowing a gasket or two at the lame-ass politicians who’ve abdicated doing anything constructive and love letting you be the punching bag?

    Do you have a sneaking suspicion that both parties are going to end up taking turns blaming you (and the respective other party) for everything?

    Are they right or only partially right?

    Finally, in regards the “Helicopter Ben” appellation… I understand that refers to a willingness to increase liquidity if needed. Good idea! If you could hover over me sometime soon it would be appreciated!

    It seems your pilot got stuck over Wall Street and won’t fly anywhere else.

  4. K Ackermann

    The US has beautiful markets. To access these markets, shouldn’t there be a requirement that the goods be built right here, or pay an access fee otherwise? It seems that would help in the other half of your duel mandate.

  5. F. Beard

    Mr. Bernanke,

    1) What part of a “government backed fractional reserve banking cartel issuing so-called “credit” in a government enforced monopoly money supply for private debts” sounds like the “free market” to you?

    2) Is it not true, that the US, instead of a genuine free market, has instead a system of banker fascism?

    3) Have you ever read the Torah?

      1. F. Beard

        One vote for you if you don’t believe in the ‘free market’. mw

        Actually, I do. I think we should give it a try. But we haven’t had a free market since 1913 at the latest.

        The bankers have given “the free market” a bad name but we have had no such thing. Instead we have had a free market in near everything but private money creation which has remained a government enforced monopoly.

  6. brian

    We don’t have an economy. It’s all smoke and mirrors. They treat us like suckers because we act like suckers. Wake up…

    Read “Common Sense 3.1” at ( )

    We don’t have to live like this anymore. “Spread the News”

  7. phil.hubb

    “Readers may know that tomorrow at 2:30 PM, Ben Bernanke is hosting the first press conference ever held by a Federal Reserve chairman ever. It’s remarkable that an official widely described as “the second most powerful person in America…””


    Stop right there!
    The Fed Chairman was just called the 2nd most powerful person in America yet again this year. This might well be even the truth.

    Now the fact that this office is widely considered the second most powerful is more than ample grounds for its abolition, imo.
    Under the US Constitution this office’s power in public affairs cannot be tolerated since the Fed Chair is not even a government position directly addressed by the constitution.
    So obviously has it usurped public life to a very unhealthy degree lately, as has the entire finance industry directly in the American purse.
    It’s no wonder with such exposure to lobbying and campaign finance that Wall St has become such a brazenly criminal enterprise.
    I’m sure we would all like to see most of the senior executives on Wall Street outsourced to India by now, with forcible departures to India if necessary. The nation of India would, by this time demand compensation for handling this waste, but in the long run it would undoubtedly be cheaper for us all.
    And if the Indians (wisely) won’t stand for having the likes of Goldman Sachs domiciled on its shores at any price, surely an island in the Maldives would.

    1. psychohistorian

      If one really believes we live in a class based world with the rich as the top class then Benny boy is really the TOP dog is this charade. Since Benny reports directly to the rich rather than the Pres that has his balls in Benny’s grip at the insistence of the rich he must be top dawg.

      Somebody ask Benny to answer with a straight face who his boss(es) are and in who’s interest he works.

      Pathetic piece of shit for a human just like the rest of the whores for the rich.

  8. Cedric Regula

    Oh My. The uneducated get to ask questions? Wouldn’t that be a waste of the Chair Emperor’s time? Can’t he just pontificate and bestow his knowledge upon the Little Consumers?

    Well, ok. Sometimes I get lazy and lucky at the same time and found these 22 questions at ZH (it was supplied to them from somewhere else), and decided those were my questions too.

    Mentally I had labeled this list as “22 questions no one will ever ask Ben”, but if you think there is a chance, at least with the simpler ones, then I’m all for giving it a shot.

    1. The rescue packages in 2008-2009 were all aimed at restoring CONFIDENCE to the financial system. Yet from 2001 to 2011 the DXY is down 41.5 and gold is up 473%. Does this not equate to a loss of confidence in the US monetary system? If not how would you explain this phenomena?

    2. In March of 2009 you said the ONLY reason you care about Wall Street is because of the affect it has on Main Street. You wanted to become Fed Chairmen to make things better “for the average person”. You have been Chairmen since 2006, do you believe you have accomplished your goal? And if so how?

    3. In March of 2009 you stated that “many mistakes were made leading up to the crisis of 2008”, chief amongst them was “enormous amounts of savings has flowed into the United States, and some other industrial countries. That savings has come from China and East Asia. It’s come from oil producers. And it has– and hundreds of billions of dollars, it has come into our financial system. And, you know, that would be great if we took that money and invested it wisely, and got a high return. But instead, our financial system– didn’t– didn’t do a good job” What has changed since you made that statement? Is money being invested wisely…..getting a high return?

    4. You believe that confidence in the financial system, is one of the most if not the most important aspect in creating a lasting recovery. Yet 2 years after the recession ended and the banks have been stabilized, the recovery remains tenuous at best. Could this be because “average people” do not trust a regulatory system that did NOT hold banks and the people therein accountable for their bad/fraudulent behavior leading up to the financial crisis of 2008?

    5. What do you consider to be the mandates of the Federal Reserve? Is the “wealth effect” not the 3rd mandate of the federal reserve?

    6. You have stated that you believe high food and fuel prices to be transitory. Can you define transitory? And define what you believe to be a return to normalcy for food and fuel prices.

    7. In March of 2009 you stated that for QE1 the Fed was printing money. However, you have stated that QE2 is not printing money. Can you define the difference?

    8. The recession has been over for 2 years. Yet job gains have been anemic. Why do you think this is? And how long until Americans will see a more normalized unemployment rate?

    9. The disclosed portfolio of Maiden Lane I assets includes various eurodollar and interest rate swaps indicative of hedging. Does the Federal Reserve hedge its broader $2.7 trillion SOMA Balance Sheet? And if so how? If not, why not?

    10. Has the Federal Reserve ever invested in domestic or international equity markets? If so, which Wall Street broker does the Fed use to conduct equity market interventions?

    11. In the June 2003 FOMC Transcript Vince Reinhart disclosed that the Fed had sold derivatives on instruments held by the Fed’s balance sheet: “the Desk sold options on RPs for the weeks around the century date change that totaled nearly $0.5 trillion of notional value.” Has the Fed since then engaged in selling of derivatives on RPs or any other Fed assets? If so, which Wall Street institution does the Fed use as a broker to transact through?

    12. The president recently announced that he will pursue oil “speculators” blaming them for the nearly 50% jump in Crude. Yet a simple correlation shows that broad commodity indices correlate nearly 100% with the size of the Fed’s assets. In light of this do you side with the president and blame speculators for the surge in energy prices, or believe this is some collusive cabal acting independent of the surge in free liquidity?

    13. A quick look at your most recent balance sheet indicates that “Other Federal Reserve Assets” hit an all time high of $125.6 billion in the week ended April 20. Can you provide a break down of what these “assets” consist of?

    14. A prevailing theme of over 80% of recent Permanent Open Market Operations has been the prompt refunding of Primary Dealer “On The Run” (just auctioned off) Treasurys back to the New York Fed, with the Fed purchasing up to over the old SOMA limit of any given CUSIP within a month of auction. Can you explain how this is substantially different from outright monetization of up to a third of any given issue? Can you also explain and quantify what the economic benefits to the Primary Dealers are from participating in such a process? Does the Fed keep track of how much in Mark To Market gains and losses are incurred by taxpayers as a result of the POMO reverse dutch auction? How much money have Primary Dealers made by “flipping” bonds from the Treasury back to the Fed?

    15. At the time QE2 is over, the Fed’s balance sheet will be just over $2.8 trillion. The DV01 on that amount of holdings will be about $1.5 billion, or in other words a 1% rise in interest rates will be three times greater than the Fed’s total capital of $52.6 billion as of April 20. Does the Fed only have a capital buffer for a 33 bps rise in rates? What happens if rates increase by more? What is the basis by which the Fed’s total capital account is calculated?

    16. As a result of rising interest rates, the principal repayments of agency MBS and agency debt (the mandate of QE “Lite”) have ground to a halt. In fact, in the most recent POMO schedule, the QE Lite component was a QE2 low $17 billion. If rates continue to rise (an indication of QE2’s failure according to some) the QE Lite mandate will be rendered irrelevant. Does the Fed model for what interest level will end the process of principal repayments on its agency portfolio?

    17. The Fed is expected to continue the QE2 Lite mandate of keeping the size of its balance sheet constant, which means rolling maturing Treasuries. As of April 20, the Fed held $119 billion in Treasuries maturing in under a year. Assuming the full amount is “rolled” this is roughly one fifth of the full amount of of Treasuries to be purchased under QE2. If so, will replacement Treasuries be purchased in the open market and what maturities will the Fed be focusing on?

    18. Recently the San Francisco Fed compared QE 2 to 1961’s Operation Twist whose purpose was to halt the exodus of gold as an interest rate arbitrage vehicle from the US to Europe. Is the Fed concerned that gold is once again being transferred offshore? Does the Fed have a “fair value” estimate for what the price of gold should be under the Fed’s current view of the economy?

    19. The Fed focuses on CPI to inform its decision about the prevailing rate of inflation in the US. In the US, food and energy components of CPI are de minimis, accounting for under 20% of the overall inflation gauge. Other countries, particularly China whose currency is pegged to the dollar, and whose monetary policy has a major impact on the US as well, have a CPI where food and energy account for nearly half the overall inflation metric. Is it this discrepancy that the Fed will attribute the paradox of China tightening rates (and having done so for nearly half a year now) while the US continues to rely on a ZIRP policy and is still loosening via daily POMO operations? At what point will the Fed consider this parallel tightening and loosening for the world’s two largest economies, whose currencies are pegged, problematic?

    20. In prior FOMC transcripts, Alan Greenspan indicated that gold had historically been used by the FOMC to gauge inflation expectations. Is it still used in that capacity, and if so what does it tell the Fed about where the market believes inflation is headed?

    21. Bonus question: Per Frank-Dodd, the Fed is now regulator of all banks. Yet banks are still allowed to circumvent Mark To Market accounting. How comfortable is the Fed that the financial information provided it by the MTM-exempt institutions is credible, the institutions are actually risk-free, and that the Fed is conducting prudent monetary policy in the absence of real time financial data?

    22. Bonus Bonus question: the Fed’s primary market-valued liability: the USD has plunged to multi year lows. Yet the Fed’s primary market-valued asset: Treasury bills continue to trade in a range and as recently as some months back traded at all multi year highs. To what do you attribute this fundamental mispricing?

    1. Cedric Regula

      BTW, I see an opportunity for Greenspan to get back in the limelight. Maybe a sitcom on Fox….”Ask Al”????

      Maybe a Trump style format where he interviews a group of new Fed economists each week and fires them one by one?

      1. Cedric Regula

        In the past I’ve tried to include the ZH link, but my post wouldn’t post. Don’t know if that’s a fluke or some sort of filter.

        In this case, at the end of the ZH post they said something like “h/t reader so and so” which is why I assumed it was supplied to ZH from somewhere else.

  9. tagyoureit

    Mr. Bernanke,

    1. What impact does Lady Gaga ripping off Madonna have on the dual mandate of stable prices and low unemployment?

    So, you agree Lady Gaga is ripping off Madonna!

    2. Are you concerned withdrawling monetary stimulus will reduce demand for Lady Gaga? What about for other ordinary Americans?

    1. Jimbo

      Would a fair SAT question be: Lady Gaga : Madonna as Bernanke : ?, with one of the options being Greenspan?

  10. john

    David Merkel had a great list on his blog:

    Some of my favorites:

    1) Why has the NY Fed’s open market’s desk been buying predominantly intermediate nominal Treasuries, but with TIPS, predominantly the long end? Is the Fed trying to purchase a long-dated inflation hedge?

    5) How are you regulating banks differently now than you were in 2005?

    7) Why did state-regulated insurers come through the crisis better than federally-regulated depositary institutions?

    9) Why is the Fed so big in terms of employment, when all you do is set monetary policy, and pretend to regulate financials? Why can’t the Fed be slimmed down to provide a greater payback to the US Treasury?

    10) Are you concerned that the Fed’s balance sheet is a record 16-17% of US GDP? If you begin to shrink your balance sheet, what will the effect be on the banks, lending and the general economy?

    13) What evidence is there that quantitative easing works? Japan is still a basket case, and they have done it the most. Ignore theory, and give concrete examples.

    14) Quantitative easing has forced investors to take more risk, particularly retirees who need income. Is it fair to engage in an economic policy that is unfair to investors and seniors? Why harm savers who deserve a good return on their savings?

    16) Why is the Fed sucking down 50% of the US Government’s issuance of debt?

  11. john

    Mr Bernanke,

    Please have the moral and political courage to inform the general public if the Fed ever accounted for the missing several trillion dollars?

  12. Main Street Muse

    My questions, asked as a resident of Main Street, not financial expert…

    1) How much has the Federal Reserve spent on acquiring toxic assets from banks since their collapse?

    2) How has absorbing the toxic assets of banks helped the residents of Main Street?

    3) What benefit does the US gain from having investment banks considered “bank holding companies”?

    4) How has becoming a “bank holding company” changed the behaviors of investment banks in ways that have created stability for the US economy? Or has it simply allowed them to continue to engage in risky business activities backed by the full faith of the US government?

    5) Does the fear of inflation lead the Fed to develop policies that discourage wage increases?

    6) Do you see a time in the near future when the banks in our financial sector will be able to deal with their own losses – even if it means bankruptcy for the company – without federal support to prop up their operations?

    7) What, for you, are the key lessons of the Lehman bankruptcy, and how can we use those lessons to help us wean the American financial sector from its dependence on the Fed?

    8) Do you see the possibility of having a financial sector able to stand alone without Federal support when times get tough or are we permanently wedded to bailing the TBTF banks?

    9) Does Dodd Frank go far enough to ensure we’ll get a financial sector that can exist without federal bailouts and support when they take risks too big to succeed?

    10) If you knew then in 2088 what you know now, would you allow bankers at banks requiring massive federal bailouts to used tax dollars to pay for bonuses? Do you feel that protecting bankers from the consequences of their failure is the correct approach to protecting the American economy?

      1. Main Street Muse

        Thanks. I offer these questions as a person on Main Street who remains puzzled by the continued federal support of a failed financial sector. And as someone who wonders why reform of a failed financial sector is not our number one priority, given the enormous costs born by the US economy when the sector fails.

        1. readerOfTeaLeaves

          Well, I’ve posted my comment farther down the thread.

          But, along with Econned and the culture of denial that economics has too long labored under, I’d suggest that you might want to get your hands on a copy of Shaxson’s ‘Treasure Islands’ (about tax havens).
          Many dots connect.

  13. RebelEconomist

    “With the quantitative easing programme, the Federal Reserve has been using its open market operations to lower interest rates other than the overnight Federal funds rate. Why did the Federal Reserve not use its open market operations, in the opposite way, to resist the lowering of long term interest rates during the “saving glut” preceding the financial crisis, at which time the Federal Reserve was itself (probably) the largest central bank holder of longer term treasuries.”

    I say “probably” because it is conceivable, albeit unlikely given typical central bank preferences, that one of the larger foreign central bank holders of treasuries overweighted longer term treasuries. For more details see here:

  14. Jamie

    Why is government debt funded with interest bearing bonds? Can he explain why Exactly the same effects cant be achieved by directly creating the money with no more risk of inflation?

  15. Glenn Condell

    Are you now, or have you ever been, a disciple of the ‘philosophy’ of Ayn Rand?


    Do you believe in, and if so have you been guided by Leo Strauss’s ‘noble lies’ doctrine?

    1. gs_runsthiscountry

      Yes, inquiring minds would like to know: Mr Bernank, are you sir, borne of the same mold as your predecessors. If so, how does that feel today?

      Considering, the prior two chairman were laissez-faire in philosophy, before steering the interest rate ship. Amazing how those ideals have to go out the window by default upon taking chairmanship.

      Here is an old interview I found some months back doing some research, Volcker commentary at the time of the “Commanding Heights” series/book Circa 2000.

      Perhaps some readers will find the link below interesting, or not. I am not as well read on our prior rulers-of-the-world as I would like, interesting reading none the less.

  16. Doly

    At school, I was infamous among teachers for asking the sort of awkward question that sounded incredibly simple and that the teacher really should have an answer to, but the teacher didn’t know. I think I might have such a question for Ben:

    Considering how high gold and silver prices have gone lately, and the increased demands for physical gold and silver, it appears like a significant number of people are seriously contemplating the idea of abandoning all currencies as their preferred store of value, and substituting with precious metals. What would the Fed do if this trend intensifies, and at some point some participants in international trade demand payment in gold or silver instead of dollars or other currency?

    I know it’s fairly unlikely that Yves picks this particular question to ask, and even if she did, that Ben would pick this question to answer, so I’m interested in whatever anybody around here has to say about it.

    1. Cedric Regula

      My guess is if you make the question embarrassing enough, Yves will ask it. But Ben still won’t answer it.

      But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try and make your question even more embarrassing for the benefit of this blog.

      I’ve seen some news in the press, albeit difficult to substantiate, that some central banks around the world are now increasing holdings in gold. Most likely at the expense of the dollar and treasuries.

      Adding that to the question would help cut off Bernanke from the obvious pat answer that gold and silver are just being bought by the kooky fringe people that just don’t understand money and finance.

      Then as a followup question, after the silence, ask if Ben is aware of any studies done by the Fed, Treasury, IRS, BIS, IMF, World Bank, or any Ivy League finance and economics schools which would indicate any sort of correlation showing:

      “kooky fringe people” = “rich people”

      When Ben answers that he is not aware of any, nod, say ok, and then sit back in your chair.

      1. psychohistorian

        Well, since I am not one of the rich and since I moved all ($100K-) my IRA money out of Treasuries and into Gold in September of 2008, I must be one of the real kooks…..

        That said I do agree that the rich can afford to have a bunch of gold, silver, commodities, etc. in a balanced manner, in much larger quantities than most individuals, to cover all eventualities…..unlike the rest of us.

  17. decora

    The ‘utilities’ question is perfect. It was also brought up in Suzanne McGee’s book Chasing Goldman Sachs… there have got to be a ton of people who would support this idea if they only knew it existed.

  18. Jackrabbit


    1. Did you really expect that QE2 would cause interest rates to fall, or did you expect that inflationary expectations would overwhelm the effect of a (very small) reduced supply?

    Follow up: If the former, how would bringing down medium term interest rates by a few basis points help the economy to create the jobs you touted as the reason for QE2. If the later, to whose benefit was it that interest rates should rise and why did you say repeatedly that jobs would be created because QE2 would cause interest rates to fall?

    2. What public policy lessons have you learned from your QE2 experience?

    3. What would cause you to push for QE3?

    4. Why the sudden interest in transparency? Why did you fight to prevent disclosure of Fed information? What further disclosures / other measures for transparency will be forthcoming?

    5. What is more important in your estimation: a) deficit reduction or spurring a real economic recovery? b) TBTF banks or Main Street?

    1. Cedric Regula

      Couldn’t help getting a chuckle out of this one.

      “Why the sudden interest in transparency?”

      Answer: The Ministry of Truth has determined that the word “transparency” shall henceforth be used to replace the phrase “Fed communications”.

      Historical note(this part is secret): In the old days, whenever a country got in a financial bind and the Minister of Finance and his sock puppet double running the central bank would announce a public statement, everyone would say “They are going going to lie to us now.”

      This phrase was replaced by “Fed communications”.

  19. scraping_by

    Given the panic of many people over the USG public debt, would you be willing to forgive all or some of the $2.6T Treasury debt the Fed holds?

    Would you do it to avoid default on the Treasuries held by Social Security?

    How about if Goldman Sachs could take a percentage?

  20. Jimbo

    What impact does the rising wealth and income inequality have on your ability to steer the economy via monetary policy? If substantial, what policies do you recommend be embraced to lessen wealth and income inequality.

  21. skippy

    Will you declare mission accomplished victory when all US stock market exchanges and indexes are at pre-crisis levels, even when the currency they are priced in, is soooo devalued.

    Skippy…the sheeple want to party! Free hats fix every thing…eh…spirit thingy…like every thing else these days…all that matters is if it feels good.

    PS. Incremental poisoning is just a fact of life, in joy today!

  22. steelhead23

    Sir, Both yourself and the Sec. Treasury have stated that the U.S. has a strong dollar policy. As the dollar index is currently under 74 and was about 88 a year ago, how has QEII affected the value of the dollar?

    Follow up. With ZIRP reducing the income of folks living on the fixed income from Treasury bills they invested in as “safe”, while inflation is around 6% at present (BLS states 0.5% per month over the past 2 months – 6% is 0.5% X 12, a projection based on current data), the elderly in America are being squeezed. Bill Gross has termed this loss of risk-free income as theft and has pointed at the Fed as the thief. What measures would you recommend and what measures do you propose to implement to protect the purchasing power of America’s retirees dependent on bond income?

    1. Cedric Regula

      Follow Up II

      Sir Ben, would you also recommend that pension funds and the Social Security Trust Fund have their charters updated so they may operate as hedge funds in order to meet projected investment returns necessary to fund obligations?

      Follow Up III

      I’m a boomer nearing retirement and I have a retirement planning question. I made a spreadsheet that uses my savings as source of income. It then calculates my income. I detailed out my living expenses and applied the handy CPI multiplier you guys give us.

      My first dilemma is when I plug in low risk interest rates ranging from zero to 5 percent, it says I need anywhere from half a million to infinity of savings per retired person in the household. I wish to not take my expiration date into account in the calculation at this point in time.

      I have similar problems with picking a number for CPI (and Dollar Index), Social Security benefit and Medicare cost.

      Can you help?

      Vampire Humanoid

  23. Tad

    It’s a given that we should BUY GOLD. But should JP Morgan Chase and Co. NA continue to have semi-fettered access to the discount window while they have cornered the silver market. Also, how much gold would you buy?

  24. craazyman

    What’s your best 10-bagger, other than GLD?

    How much salt do you take on your margaritas?

    If you had to take a six-pack to the beach, would it be Tecate or Dos Equis?

    and . . . . drum roll please . . .

    If Larry Summers dressed up as John Law for Halloween would that freak you out?

    bowahahaha ahahaha hahahahahahaha

    1. Jim Haygood

      To quote verbatim the question I was asked by a railroad dick when caught walking on the tracks:

      ‘Have you ever been arrested?’

      And the follow-ups:

      ‘What defense, if any, could you offer to a common law fraud charge?’


      ‘Do you currently have a criminal defense attorney?’

  25. craazyman

    What’s your best 10-bagger other than GLD?

    Do you ever do Tequila shots with the governors?

    If were taking a six-pack to the beach would it be Tecate or Dos Equis?

    and . . . drum rolll please . . .

    If Larry Summers dressed up like John Law for Halloween, would that freak you out?

    bowahahaahahahahahah ahahahah

  26. Anita

    Instead of buying Debt with the run off, why have you not used the proceeds to pay down the Debt?

  27. readerOfTeaLeaves

    Assuming that half the world’s trade now flows through secrecy jurisdictions (i.e., tax havens), and further assuming that all financial crises since the 1970s are linked to the kinds of externalities that offshore money now represents, how is the role of the Fed evolving in response to these new conditions in global finance?

    In other words, since the 1960s and 1970s, the role of offshore money, multinationals, and tax havens have increasingly been used to manipulate markets, including capital and financial markets.

    As offshore money has come to dominate the laws, monetary systems, and financial processes of nation states, what kinds of global financial institutions and real-time reporting do you see as urgently necessary if nation states (and institutions like the Fed) are to continue to have any significant influence against the predatory, tax-haven protected forces of globalized finance?

    Finally: Have you read Nicholas Shaxson’s “Treasure Islands”? If so, do you have any thoughts you’d care to share?

    Thanks, Yves, for the opportunity to comment and post a question.

    1. aletheia33

      i think this is a good question, although i do not know how far it falls within his bailiwick.

  28. alex


    The clarified (and hence improved) version of your Summers question is so good, particularly for such a forum, that I can’t think of any way to top it. Nor, quite frankly, are any of the posters’ questions as good.

    The only improvement I can possibly think of is to, if brevity permits, add a reference to the period of (1940-1970?) when such an approach led to exceptional stability.

    Please ask your question if you can. While I laud The Ben Bernank for holding such a conference, I’m sure that in the time honored tradition of press conferences you won’t get a straight answer. But just asking such a question spreads the idea. It’s simple, to the point, and in a form that most people will quickly understand.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You are very kind to assume I’ll be at the press conference. Not a happening event, but the media is looking at sites like NC for good questions, and the Ratigan folks are pushing for questions from Main Street types to be featured prominently.

      Now that the Fed has relented to having press conferences, I think the orchestration of web-based efforts to provide input will only get better over time.

    2. Glenn Condell

      I will be looking for a small, box-shaped bulge between the Bernank’s shoulder blades.

      1. psychohistorian

        If they can front end trading like they do then real time propaganda creation should be a piece of cake and it worked for Bush.

        Instead of the bulge in the back they could give Benny a beanie hat with spinning copter blades and built in RF capability. It fits in well with the transparency narrative, right?

  29. jbmoore61

    Will the Fed support the new CFPB and Dr. Elizabeth Warren to the fullest extent possible since the CFPB is now part of the Federal Reserve system?

    Why did you appoint Dr. Patrick Parkinson as the Fed’s top banking supervisor when he has no experience supervising banks?

  30. Hugh

    If it hasn’t been said by someone else, this is going to be an enormous waste of time. It will be like the exercise with Larry Summers discussed in a post yesterday. He won’t answer, he won’t answer truthfully, or he’ll just talk about something other than what was asked. But why seriously would anyone expect anything different? Bernanke is a criminal, a financial terrorist. You don’t ask such people their opinion. You lock them away.

    1. RebelEconomist

      I think that is a good question, jal (although it might be better to omit the list of blogs). I asked someone at the BoE recently about this, and it seems that they do not. This is unfortunate, because while there is a lot of rubbish in blogs, they can provide ideas and challenges that are (a) fresh and in response to important developments and (b) from independent outsiders whose views might otherwise go overlooked. It is possible, I think, to get to know which blogs and commentators tend to be relatively rich in such ideas.

  31. bill

    From the semi-educated un connected but responsible bill payer with low to moderate income: How is destroying the value of my savings a good thing? Why is everything inflating in cost except for the one thing I need to inflate or at least not plummet in value my home? Do you truly believe your actions are helping me and millions like me?

    Do you know that I literally keep my life savings out of the bank on principle? You personally have destroyed my faith in the american system. does that disturb you? Did you know that I would rather light my “money” on fire than participate in the stock market, treasuries or even a savings account? I am not alone and I am angry.

    How are you preparing to deal with the massive onslaught of bank failures that are coming soon?

    How does the average non moneyed person factor into your decision making? We are reaching the end of our ability to deal with your policys.

  32. Hugh

    OK, I’ll go with one. There were many of us, both economists and non-economists, who were right about the housing bubble, its bursting, oil prices back in 2007-2008, the meltdown, and the recession. Not only were we not listened to then. We aren’t being listened to now. So why, Mr. Bernanke, do you stick with those who got it wrong?

  33. curmudgeonly troll

    When you were being confirmed in 2005, you said there was no housing bubble

    In 2007, you said the subprime fallout was likely to be contained

    In 2008, you said you didn’t expect a recession

    In 2009, you said the Fed would not monetize US government debt

    In 2010, you said inflation was too low

    Are we supposed to laugh or cry?

    Via Business Insider

    Bernanke Quotes That Are So Absurd You Won’t Know Whether To Laugh Or Cry

  34. skippy

    Ben ol’boy could you pass the Grey Poupon? 99% of the American herd is becoming rather tough, snewie and tasteless peasant fare.

    Skippy…New menu soon you say…ahh…Asian, very nice.

  35. Anonymous Comment

    A. Has he ever watched the Wizard of Oz? If yes, What did he think when Toto pulled back the curtain – quick it’s a Rorshchach test.


    B. How has his attitude changed regarding the on-going mortgage crisis now that he knows an inkling of the extent of the fraud in the system? Did he have a gut-wrenching ‘aha’ moment/paradigm shift when he realized people he thought he could trust had lied to him/misled him/misused him? Can he see that now we have a game-changer and he needs to look with a new set of eyes at the people he thought would be helping him find ‘solutions’? Perhaps the real answers have been there all along.


    1. alex

      “when Toto pulled back the curtain”

      I always preferred the part when the strawman got a diploma. Was it in economics?

  36. Tao Jonesing

    Wasted effort.

    Bernanke is paid to lie and dissemble. Asking him a question– any question– just makes him appear legitimate.

    If reporters want to ask him a question, it should simply be: You’re obviously a liar, so why should we bother listening to anything you have to say?

    1. skippy

      Emphatically — Yes —.

      It’s like trying to convert a region of tribal sham men, whether true believer, my job and status depend on others stupidity, or when the villagers wake up it will be ritual sacrifice with me and my fellow sham men on the ends of pointy sticks, decorating the village gates.

      Engaging in mock sophistry with a bunch of slippery miscreants will get you know where…cough…when you can make up the rules as you go (mark to myth et al), you can not win.

      Skippy…it would be better if everyone in the room just turned their backs and refused to participate, then writing articles explaining that conversing with con-men only enables them further, grants validity to the madness.

  37. SH

    If inflation expectations increase but then moderate because year over year comparisons moderate how is this good when depositors took a 10% (guess) compounded real loss on deposits in the mean time to make things good?

  38. Transor Z

    All of the reporters should speak gibberish and look at him with concern when he smiles and says, “What? Can you repeat the question. I have no idea what you just said.”

  39. moslof

    Does the failure of Fiscal Stimulus/TARP/ZIRP/QE to produce a significant trend reversal in the labor participation rate indicate a decline in what Keynes described as “animal spirits” in the U.S.?

  40. Pat b

    Mr chairman,

    The wives of two wall street bankers were able to make double digit profits because of their connections.

    Who do I need to blow to get some of that sweet sweet TALF action?

  41. mock turtle

    mr bernanke

    seein as how the fed is the second most powerful non branch of the federal government

    and could blow the head of the economy clear off

    you must be asking yourself one question,

    after firing off QE1 and QE2, is there more QE left in that gun

    well what we want to ask you mr bernanke

    is do you feel lucky? well do-ya……… punk?

  42. MikeJ

    Is it the position of the Federal Reserve that the “stable price” mandate, outlined in Section 2a of the Federal Reserve Act, takes precedence over the “maximum employment” mandate of the Act?

  43. MacSin

    1) Why isn’t Wall Street in Jail? Every other time the financial industry has blown up the economy people went to jail en masse, what is different this time? What, if any, are the statute of limitations on fraud that crosses the entire globe? Why is everyone who can so afraid of punishing Wall Street they so rightly deserve, it is not like there isn’t a mountain of evidence and don’t tell me you believe it would hurt the economy, it will hurt the economy more if you don’t.

    2) Why was the management of the financial institutions that were bailed out left in place to finish destroying the wealth of the other 99.99% of the nation?

    3) Why the TARP money that was meant to be lent out by the financial institutions instead allowed to be used to pay exorbitant bonuses (there is point when enough is enough) and why aren’t those bonuses being clawed back and those who approved of being jailed for grand larceny and the corporations fined into bankruptcy?

    4) Why haven’t The Too Big To Fail corporations been taken apart and sold off? Why are corporations allow to make campaign contributions (aka bribes) when it is a clear conflict of interest and let’s not forget non-monetarily bribes such as future cushy jobs to those policing financial institutions or even corporate welfare not to mention being paid by those you rate and using free speech as a defense when you couldn’t be more wrong or betting against your customers?

    5) Why were banks allowed to pay dividends when they are illegally foreclosing on properties and cutting jobs? Why hasn’t the deregulation laws from the last 40 years been axed?

    6) If reducing principals on mortgages creates a dangerous moral hazard on Main Street and that shouldn’t be allowed then how can you defend allowing the moral hazard of privatizing profits and socializing losses/and or risk on Wall Street without being a complete hypocrite?

    7) Do you, Washington and Wall Street even live on the same planet as the rest of us or did you fall asleep in your economics class that showed eradicating the middle class of any economy is the first step to the annihilation of that economy? Is that the legacy you want to leave?

    1. readerOfTeaLeaves


      I think that Yves is correct that this whole crowdsourcing mode will improve. In future, here’s hoping we can register ‘votes’ for specific questions.

      But this is still a wonderful beginning.

  44. peter

    Keynsian stimulus has failed. What does the Chairman propose now that we are all in a tail spin dive and approaching the point of no return?

  45. ambrit

    Dear Ben;
    Since the New York Federal Reserve Bank was involved; could we get a look at the billion dollars in cash sent to Pasha Bremmer in Baghdad that time?

  46. Michael H

    Question from MSM reporters to Ben Bernanke before the Press Conference begins.

    Mr Bernanke, we are at your service. Do you have your list of prepared questions for us to ask you before the Kabuki theater, er, before the Press Conference begins?

    “Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.” — Joseph Goebbels

  47. Mickey Marzick in Akron, Ohio

    Mr. Bernanke,

    When will unemployment/underemployment drop to below pre-crisis [5.0% – Dec 2007/BLS] levels?

    Is it possible to talk of economic recovery with 8% or more of the labor force unemployed/underemployed? Or is the “new normal” a recovery with unemployment and underemployment stuck at 8% or higher?

    Why isn’t new investment made easier by zero interest rates and quantitative easing not taking place?

    1. Mickey Marzick in Akron, Ohio

      Should read:

      Why isn’t new investment made easier by zero interest rates and quantitative easing taking place?

      One too many negatives out of sync with the offical party line…

  48. Charlie

    Hey Ben: We gave the banks 23 trillion…why didnt we just buy the banks, fire the bums, strip the banks of their assets and give it to the public? Why are the banks allowed to get interest free loans? Why didnt we use the 23 trillion to pay the 14 trillion in debt? When is the Fed going to implement its mandate to realize full employment…or any employment?

  49. aletheia33

    i’m with those who point out the futility of trying to elicit anything useful in any way from this person, given the overwhelming evidence of his complete complicity with/capture by a corrupt system. while of course, i think yves’s question is a strong one and would like to see how, say, obama, geithner, rubin, and all the usual other suspects would respond to it.

    anyway, just for fun:

    as a hypothetical, when corruption of a country’s financial system and government has advanced to the point that it is rendering the commonwealth incapable of making constructive use of its resources to provide a decent standard of living for all its members, for example as has been the case in (list countries currently and/or historically in this situation), what actions can or should that country’s central bank take that may or will fix or prevent the worsening of this problem?
    and could you please, most respected sir, give examples of countries/central banks where these actions have achieved, in your opinion, the most desirable results.

  50. George Washington

    Yves and Dylan,

    My top 3 questions:

    (1) Please list the banks and other entities and individuals which own the Federal Reserve, and their percentage of ownership.

    (2) Why Did the Fed Bail Out the Bank of Libya?

    (3) Mr. Bernanke, you have previously admitted that the Federal Reserve caused the Great Depression. Do you think the Fed caused the Great Recession, given that the Fed:

    * Turned its cheek and allowed massive fraud

    * Acted as cheerleader in chief for unregulated use of derivatives at least as far back as 1999 (see this and this)

    * And for subprime loans

    * Allowed the giant banks to grow into mega-banks, even though most independent economists and financial experts say that the economy will not recover until the giant banks are broken up. For example, Citigroup’s former chief executive says that when Citigroup was formed in 1998 out of the merger of banking and insurance giants, Greenspan told him, “I have nothing against size. It doesn’t bother me at all”

    * Argued that economists had conquered the business cycle, and that modern, technologically advanced financial markets are best left to police themselves

    * Preached that a new bubble be blown every time the last one bursts

    * Kept interest rates too low?

    (Links for the last question here:

  51. monday1929

    “Mr. Bernanke, the Pentagon has released a study raising the possibility that foreign terrorists conspired to cause the collapse, partly through the use of derivatives. If it turns out that domestic banks caused the collapse through the use of fraud and derivatives, do you believe those bankers should be tried for treason?”

    They are happy as long as we sit typing away, and asking our ever so witty questions, and not studying how to build IEDs.

  52. traderjoe

    Why does a sovereign country borrow its own currency – at interest – from private corporations?

    1. psychohistorian

      Nice point but isn’t the US dollar only sovereign in name only? I thought all them notes belonged to the Fed??????

      Give the profits to the rich and the debt to the rest of us.

      Will Americans wake up before they are forced to pay to breathe?

Comments are closed.