Five questions for Ben Bernanke
The Senate is likely to confirm him, but not without asking things like 'How soon will you raise interest rates?'
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WHAT DID YOU DO TO KEN LEWIS? Last September, as the financial crisis accelerated, Ken Lewis, CEO of Bank of America, bought a troubled Merrill Lynch for $50 billion in stock. Since then, that deal has looked worse and worse, as Merrill Lynch losses have become more and more apparent.Skip to next paragraph
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Since then, Lewis has testified that he did not back out of the deal in part because Bernanke and Henry Paulson did not want him to, as they feared the resultant bankruptcy of Merrill Lynch would endanger the whole economy. He says the powerful officials told him they would remove him and Bank of America’s entire board unless he went ahead with the Merrill Lynch deal.
Bernanke has denied making that specific threat. But what did he tell Lewis before the deal went through?
WHY SHOULD WE GIVE YOU MORE POWER? Bernanke’s renomination comes at time when the powers of the institution he heads may be in flux. The Obama administration’s proposed financial regulatory reforms would, among other things, give the Fed more authority to oversee systemically important institutions. Just like Merrill Lynch and Bank of America.
But not all lawmakers are convinced this is a good idea, given the Fed’s past regulatory actions, and its independence. A council of regulators might be a better option, they feel.
WHERE ARE THE JOBS? Finally, Senators may be grateful for Bernanke’s actions in the economy’s dark hours. They may be happy that a recovery may be appearing to take root. But GDP numbers, housing sales, retail figures -- those are all numbers. When are the jobs going to come back?
The Obama administration’s mid-year budget review predicts that unemployment will continue to rise, to over 10 percent, and that job losses will not end and job gains begin until the middle of 2010.
“As the middle class of this country continues to shrink, we need a chairman of the Federal Reserve who is more concerned about expanding the productive economy -- increasing decent-paying jobs for all Americans -- then continuing to fan the flames of Wall Street greed and outrageous compensation packages,” said Sanders in a statement on Tuesday.
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The drive to revive and rebrand the Republican Party from the inside is stirring a new generation of young politicians. Here’s a look at these up-and-comers and where they might take the party.
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