Ben Bernanke Says Ben Bernanke Could Reduce The Unemployment Rate But He Prefers Not To

A blog about business and economics.
June 8 2012 9:29 AM

Ben Bernanke Says Ben Bernanke Could Reduce The Unemployment Rate But He Prefers Not To

145878765
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke listens during a hearing of the Joint Economic Committee on Capitol Hill June 7, 2012 in Washington, DC.

Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages

I was too busy on a panel talking about monetary policy yesterday to take note of Ben Bernanke's congressional testimony, but it once again included a key point that deserves much more attention in the policy debate. Bernanke said, repeatedly, that he believes there are additional steps that he could take to bolster real growth and that he remains at the ready to unleash those steps if he thinks conditions warrant.

In other words, whatever it is that people who aren't named "Ben Bernanke" think is standing in the way of the Fed reducing the unemployment rate, Ben Bernanke thinks that nothing is standing in his way other than his own relative lack of concern with the fate of jobless people.

Advertisement

His view is that he could do more, and that if the situation gets worse he may do more, but that he doesn't regard a years-long period of mass unemployment as that big a problem. He's more concerned with preserving the Fed's credibility at capping consumer price increases at a two percent annual level. That's his personal judgment. Better for millions to stay unemployed than for them to start commuting to work and moving out of their parents' basement, pushing up oil prices and rents. It's a perverse judgment in my view, but nobody on the Hill wanted to directly challenge it.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

Surprise! The Women Hired to Fix the NFL Think the NFL Is Just Great.

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Altered State
Sept. 17 2014 11:51 PM The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 17 2014 6:53 PM LGBTQ Luminaries Honored With MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 8:25 PM A New Song and Music Video From Angel Olsen, Indie’s Next Big Thing
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 9:00 PM Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 17 2014 11:48 PM Spanking Is Great for Sex Which is why it’s grotesque for parenting.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?