Bernanke Apologist Watch

by Tom Bozzo

Shorter [1] Jim Hamilton (via [2] Brad DeLong):

Ben Bernanke’s record leaves nine links’ worth of things to be desired, but considering the zombie ex-Fed Chair alternatives (plus Brett Fav-Paul Volcker), he deserves to be confirmed for a second term.

I am almost not kidding. Here’s what Hamilton actually asks Bernanke’s critics:

I wonder which of [sic] previous Fed Chairs critics think would be better for the job than Bernanke. Surely you don’t think we’d have been better off bringing Alan Greenspan back? [touché] G. William Miller [deceased] fumbled badly with much simpler problems. Arthur Burns [also deceased] is a case study in how not to conduct monetary policy.

Would DeLong accept this sort of argument from a Berkeley undergrad seeking a decent grade? The question of far greater interest is why critics should have preferred Bernanke to prospective candidates who might have the combination of background and metabolic function to carry out the job — say, Janet Yellen or Alan Blinder — and might also do better than Bernanke in a pop quiz on the Fed’s dual mission.

Nor does Hamilton impress in reviewing the (admittedly odd) politics of Bernanke’s reappointment:

I shake my head when I look at the list of senators who say they’ll vote “no.” How could there possibly be an alternative whom Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Jim DeMint (R-SC) would both prefer to Bernanke?

Obviously an alternative candidate need not be preferred by both Boxer and DeMint. An SDJ commenter rightly notes that DeMint’s opposition is in the nature of a political stunt, that is rejecting the rightmost potential nominee for Fed Chair to try to help along the development of the Obama political suicide machine. (They may not need the help.) As little as they act like it, the Democrats hold a sizeable majority of Senate seats, and a reasonable choice of a Democratic monetary policy technocrat ought to have little trouble lining up at least 59 votes. As for the sixtieth, I’d have liked to see the Republican Senate caucus hold ranks in preventing a Yellen nomination from receiving an up-or-down vote.

[1] ‘Shorter’ concept created by Daniel Davies and perfected by Elton Beard. We may not be aware of all Internet traditions™ but try to keep abreast of the popular ones.

[2] Econbrowser’s feed has a high-attention place in my feed reader, and it should be in yours; this piece, though, gets emphasis largely via DeLong’s apologist-in-chief blogging.

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