Fed Chief Bernanke: Economic Hero

In a new book, Financial Times' Allan Beattie makes the case that Bernanke was the only one to get it right during the global financial crisis

Fed chief Ben Bernanke at a press conference last year. (Photo: AP) Fed chief Ben Bernanke at a press conference last year. (Photo: AP)

We’ll forgo the mental image of the Fed chairman in a cape and tights, but Alan Beattie, international economy editor at the Financial Times, argues Ben Bernanke is the only hero to come out of the global financial crisis.

In his new book, “Who's in Charge Here? How Governments Are Failing the World Economy,” Beattie writes that of all the central bankers in the world, only one (Bernanke) did the right thing by focusing on the crisis as one of markets and confidence, not debt. He calls austerity measures instituted recently by certain eurozone countries “crazy,” especially given that they’re being undertaken in the midst of a recession.

“Whether it's Europe's top officials blithely stumbling from one bailout to the next, or our own voluntarily flirting with default last summer, there's been a deficit of clear thinking among policymakers,” The Atlantic writes in a review of the book. “Add to that a lack of will among international institutions like the G20, and the results have been tragicomic.”

And Beattie doesn’t hold back when discussing politicians in the United States.

"The worst offenders are the ones in the U.S. who want to replicate the Great Depression," he told The Daily Ticker website on Monday. "Half of Capitol Hill wants to return to hard money, balanced budgets in the middle of a recession, even to the gold standard, which is completely insane."

“One of the more intriguing components of this smart, brief take on the world's woes deals with the emerging economies like China, India, and Brazil,” according to the Ticker. “The conventional wisdom holds that they have stepped up to fill in for missing investment and demand, and are asserting themselves as leaders.”

But Beattie argues that they aren't pulling their weight in helping to manage the global economy, the Ticker adds. Beattie notes that emerging markets compete with one another, frequently cause trade problems with one another and don't have a unified view on how to cope with significant issues.

"When it really comes down to it, India and China fear one another more than they fear the U.S.," Beattie said. “Their ratio of rhetoric to action is extremely high.”

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