The latest on the Bernanke confirmation

The Senate Republicans are making procedural maneuvers to delay the Bernanke confirmation for re-appointment as Fed chair (hat tip Marc Chandler).  There is talk of a filibuster being used as a tactic to squelch his nomination before his term expires at the end of the month.  The interesting bit is that Bernanke is a Republican of a largely neoclassical/monetarist bent who was appointed by George W. Bush.  So I am not sure what the rationale is behind these moves.

Nevertheless, Anti-Fed sentiment is running high.  A commenter at CW noted:

This is a critical moment in time for those of us who have suffered at the hands of Ben Bernanke. I think you should encourage all of your readers to contact their Senators and express their opinion about this man’s performance or lack thereof and thwart his chances of further eroding the earning ability of everyday savers, investors and retirees. Confirmation hearings are Jan 31 I believe.

I think this gets at one of the core issues with the Fed, namely its cheap money policy which is subsidizing bank profits at the expense of savers.  Other issues include a lack of transparency (see Bloomberg News sues the Fed under Freedom of Information Act) and a failure to regulate (see Sheila Bair blames the Fed for the credit crisis). Ben Bernanke has definitely been part and parcel of all of these problems.

The question is who would replace Bernanke. Last month, I highlighted a video of Mark Thoma which favored Bernanke’s re-appointment asking:

are [Janet Yellen and Larry Summers] still the alternatives if Bernanke is not confirmed?

Mark Thoma: Libertarians and populists are against Bernanke, Dec 2009

I guarantee you that, if Bernanke gets tossed aside, Larry Summers would never be confirmed at this point.  That leaves Yellen.  Who else is there that Obama would appoint but that would not meet a filibuster? Alan Blinder? There aren’t many people I can think of. How would markets do with a new appointment?

So, when it comes to Bernanke, I don’t think contacting your Senator and blocking his appointment is going to be a good solution. 

Right now, odds for Bernanke are down to 80% from a high of 96% at intrade.


Also see Opposition To Bernanke Growing In Wake Of Mass. Vote from the Huffington Post.

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