Thursday, December 17, 2009

Man Of the Year?

Today, the Senate Banking Committee voted 16-7 to confirm Bernanke for another term. The nomination now goes to the Senate floor. Because of significant opposition, including the holds that several senators have put on the nomination, it's unclear when a vote will take place.

The vote today was notable, both for the sheer number of "no" votes and for the way some individual senators voted. One was Richard Shelby, the committee's ranking member. While Shelby has been critical of the Fed and Bernanke recently, I thought he would ultimately vote to confirm. Shelby's vote gives cover to others, which means the floor vote will be even more contentious. The other was Jeff Merkley. It's significant that a freshman Democrat would vote against a high-profile nomination by his party's president, and this is another indication of the public's anti-bailout sentiment.

Sen. Bunning continues to be a bulldog on this nomination. His statement today begins at the 24:25 mark of this tape, and readers here will recognize the bad predictions by Bernanke that Bunning revisits. Bunning understands that this is not "gotcha" pettiness. Forecasts are a critical part of the Fed's work, and predictive ability is an essential skill for any Fed chairman. Bernanke's record of forecasts and predictions is chilling and reason enough to replace him.

Here's how today's vote broke down. Since Bernanke is a known commodity at this point, those voting in favor are essentially enablers and therefore complicit in whatever happens during the next few years should Bernanke ultimately be confirmed:

No:

Richard C. Shelby, Ranking Member (R-AL)
Jim Bunning (R-KY)
Mike Crapo (R-ID)
Jim DeMint (R-SC)
David Vitter (R-LA)
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)
Jeff Merkley (D-OR)

Yes:

Christopher J. Dodd, Chairman (D-CT)
Tim Johnson (D-SD)
Jack Reed (D-RI)
Charles E. Schumer (D-NY)
Evan Bayh (D-IN)
Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI)
Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Jon Tester (D-MT)
Herb Kohl (D-WI)
Mark Warner (D-VA)
Michael Bennet (D-CO)
Robert F. Bennett (R-UT)
Bob Corker (R-TN)
Mike Johanns (R-NE)
Judd Gregg (R-NH)

12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the word from Sen. Bunning's office on the vote "No vote has been scheduled on the floor. It is highly unlikely to happen before the 20th of January. I'd think the last week of January is most likely".

With over a month to go I hope everyone who reads this blog is now sufficiently motivated to help convert enough of the borderline votes to "nays" to at least delay the confirmation.

12/17/2009 7:55 PM  
Anonymous judyo said...

Shelby of "loose lips" fame?

12/17/2009 8:35 PM  
Blogger Mr. Hedley Bowes said...

It's been awhile since I've posted comment here, so I'd like to begin by writing that I appreciate your opinions, collectively, and scepticism of the current state of economic affairs. I share in the distrust of the large players who've survived the economic turmoil and are re-arranging their balance sheets, as I write this, to liberate themselves of bonus restrictions imposed by Treasury and the Fed. I have specific contempt for the proprietary trading that is milking liquidity from our economy and providing zero value in return (save for those bonus entitlements we hear about daily underneath the latest unemployment and foreclosure reports).

That said: it is unfortunate to see Bernanke skewered as a scapegoat/whippingboy for all the ills and sins committed by the 'free-marketers' who ran the financial system into the ground and set the stage for the plutocratic socialism required of the Fed to maintain financial order. Alan Greenspan, George W. Bush and Hank Paulson: the 3 Musketeers of financial collapse...or perhaps more appropriately 'reverse Robin Hoods'.

I spent the better part of the last year and a half examining and picking apart the financial turmoil under the tutelage of two former Fed economists. During this time when the most robust economic models of the last century were collapsing (Milton Friedman...worthless in a system-wide collapse or 'correction') the Fed was under the reasonable, if not highly vulnerable, stewardship of Ben Bernanke.

Someday I may retract my support of Mr. Bernanke (as I've come to reconsider my prior wonderment of Robert Rubin and Larry Summers in favor of Robert Reich, Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz) but not today, nor this upcoming term.

We are not yet beyond the rocks. Broad unemployment is approaching 19%. There is little indication of inflation on the horizon (absent foreign exchange and trade). Dollar policy is divided and I believe that the correct course for the next period is 'weak dollar' that encourages domestic innovation and production rather than 'strong dollar' that encourages investment in global hegemony in the face of what? Continued reliance on imported petroleum? Continued consumption of cheap, toxic crap from Asia? Continued export of dwindling US productivity to the benefit of Wall Street?

Get real. Give Bernanke some slack, and support my Senator Maria Cantwell's effort to reinstate Glass/Steagall.

12/18/2009 1:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greenspan and his ilk and others responsible for this mess should not be thrown in with the "free marketers" that are accused of causing this mess. One cannot be a "free marketer" and at the same time tinker with interest rates, encourage moral hazard with the "Greenspan Put", and bailout banker/hedge fund buddies when things go wrong. Real free markets would not have allowed much of these shenanigans because anyone taking the risks of the past decade (or longer) would have busted. Only because of market interventions, moral hazard, and interest rate manipulations were things able to get out of control.

12/18/2009 9:13 AM  
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12/18/2009 11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can you separate Greenspan and Bernanke? One could argue that Bernanke, as Greenspan's right hand man for so long, was the "brains" behind Greenspan's Fed. He argued for even easier monetary policy...and long before we reached so-called "systemic failure". They are both complicit in, albeit Greenspan for a lot longer, fostering and then presumably "diffusing" credit bubbles for so long, and so wanting in common sense and private business experience, that they both think they are so full of wisdom that no credit bubble is too large for them to "handle". sorry, but if you can provide one shred of evidence where Bernanke disagreed with Greenspan and demonstrated even the slightest inkling of his prescience (preventing a meltdown that they both caused not accepted), then I would reconsider. As Sen Bunning said "he had great sympathy for Mr. Bernanke's position", but that is no reason to remain in denial about his abysmal and well documented record of incompetence. I was sitting 15 feet from him in the July 2008 HFSC hearing listening to him proclaim how FNH and FRE were "well capitalized" and gaining confidence of the capital markets. That one performance alone is enough to run him out of town on the first Amtrak leaving the station.

12/18/2009 5:09 PM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

LOL at Hedley. What are you smoking? Seriously I need some of that S@#$

12/19/2009 1:19 AM  
Anonymous KAIMU said...

ALOHA !!

Mr. Bowes ... Seeking advice from former FED economists is like seeking advice on how to quit drinking from a drunk!

I have to ask you Mr. Bowes. We have given the US FED some 96 years to "create" some damn value ... some "store of value" for a US Dollar. We have given the US FED and its member banks 96 years to build a sound foundation for America's financial and banking industry. They have failed miserably. PLEASE-E-E ... explain to me how it is I have worked faithfully since I was 15 at jobs ranging from news paper boy to CEO of DELTA TECHNOLOGY in partnership with CISCO SYSTEMS innovating the very first VoIP project and yet I still do not feel I can safely retire like my Father before me did? Why must I gamble my future on stock markets in order to claw out a return that keeps up with the cost of living?

Why is it I cannot live on a $50,000 wage in San Francisco? Why must I pay $200,000 for a basic average starter home in 2009 when my Father bought a mansion in 1960 for $30,000?

I have probably read more FOMC meeting minutes from the 1960s and 1970s than even Bernanke has and my only take from all that is these guys only real "tool" is to either raise rates ... keep them ... or lower them! Everything the US FED has ever done since it was allowed to exist is to practice and hone their art of secret intervention. Going all the way back to Arthur Burns in 1975 he speaks of using "momentum" during currency interventions against the Swiss Franc to maximize market control with the least commitment of funds. When the US FED was created they essentially promised they would create a monetary system as good as gold, but as the decades have dissipated their only true accomplishment has been to corrupt the entire global political, monetary and financial systems to the point of no return. Tell me all about the many past "fiat" monetary systems that have been unbridled successes as a "store of value" where corruption was not their only product. Tell me all about those successes. Tell me ...

Then on Thursday, Dec 17th the US Treasury recorded some $122BIL USD of Regular Series Bill issued in one day. Billions do not mean much anymore so I should mention that in the 50 operating days so far in FY 2010 the US Treasury has issued a total of $1.8TRIL USD worth of "marketable" US DEBT known as US Treasuries. Of that near 70% is short term debt maturing in less than one year. The "non-marketable" Government Account Series are way worse into the $9TRIL level now. Only two and a half months of debt issuance. There's some TRILLIONS for you! Next is QUADRILLIONS? Should we wait for the US FED, in concert with the US Treasury, to start issuing GAZILLION BAZILLIONS? At what point is enough ... enough?

Just please explain to me how many more decades do we allow the US FED to exist before they "get it right"? I mean, if you hired Bernanke to landscape your yard you would have fired him two years ago, but somehow when he dictates your financial future and that of 306million people he gets all the time n the World! When has a US FED Chairman ever been forced to resign? I know of one US President that had to resign. Are you a FED governor?

You justify nothing yet exemplify what is ruining America.

Pay me no mind I'm just an orchid farmer in Hawaii!

12/19/2009 2:52 AM  
Anonymous RW said...

Interesting hypothesis at Robert's Stochastic Thoughts (http://tinyurl.com/yj7ykld): Bernanke has seen the light but is still talking crazy to assure reappointment (and there might be a pony).

12/19/2009 9:55 AM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

Wow Kaimu...I thought about expanding on my thoughts but figured...sheesh...why bother. He's been reading our tirades for years and nothing has sunk in yet. LOL.

12/22/2009 11:09 PM  
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