Washington policy types usually just write books to defend their legacies. Former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke is instead taking to the blogosphere.
Bernanke, previously an economics professor at Princeton University and now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank, said he launched what’s simply called “Ben Bernanke’s blog” so he could again muse publicly about economic policy without sending global markets into a tailspin. He said he’ll use the blog “when the spirit moves me” to educate others, and hopefully learn something himself as well.
If his first post, justifying the Fed’s intent to keep interest rates low, is any indication, the blog will also be used to defend his past actions at the Fed, much in the same way his predecessor Alan Greenspan used his own book and subsequent television appearances to deflect blame for the 2008 global financial crisis.
After a long explanation outlining the economic concept of “equilibrium real interest rates,” Bernanke writes:
This sounds very textbook-y, but failure to understand this point has led to some confused critiques of Fed policy. When I was chairman, more than one legislator accused me and my colleagues on the Fed’s policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee of “throwing seniors under the bus” (to use the words of one senator) by keeping interest rates low.
He goes on to assure readers that he, too, was “concerned about those seniors as well,” but that raising interest rates prematurely would have been “exactly the wrong thing to do.”
Bernanke has invited comments and questions on his blog, signaling an intention to engage with a broad audience. But his 1,300 words of textbook prose seem to have already missed the mark for some early critics.