The Fed's Applied Progressivism

By Will, George | Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque), September 29, 2013 | Go to article overview

The Fed's Applied Progressivism


Will, George, Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque)


Because Ben Bernanke's public persona is as mild as milk, the transformation in American governance in which he has participated is imperfectly understood and hence insufficiently deplored. The change is dramatized by two recent developments.

One was the campaigning by several constituencies for and against what supposedly were the two leading candidates - Larry Summers and Janet Yellen - to replace Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve. The Fed can no longer be considered separated from politics.

The second, and related, development is the semantic infiltration of journalism by language that ratifies the Fed's increasingly grandiose role. A Financial Times column on Yellen, now Bernanke's presumptive successor, described her as "poised to take the tiller of the U.S. economy." Oh? The economy has a tiller? And with it the Fed chairman can steer the economy? Who knew? On The Atlantic website, a columnist defends the Fed's recent decision not to follow through on earlier intimations about reducing its monthly purchases of $85 billion in mortgage and treasury bonds. This, the columnist said, illustrates the Fed's admirable "nimbleness." A touch on the tiller here, a nimble reversal there - these express the fatal conceit of an institution that considers itself capable of, and responsible for, fine-tuning the nation's $15.7 trillion economy.

Slowing the Fed's bond purchases is called "tapering," which means more modest "quantitative easing." This is how governments talk when trying not to be understood. By continuing the pace of "easing" - printing money - the Fed has acknowledged that its fine- tuning has failed. The nimble, tiller-touching Fed assumed it would be more successful at reducing unemployment.

Well, to err is human. To assume that a few government officials can and should steer America's vast, globally connected economy - hundreds of millions of people making trillions of decisions per day - is a kind of confidence peculiar to the progressive temperament. In December 2010, Bernanke had this exchange with Scott Pelley, of CBS' "60 Minutes":

Bernanke: "We could raise interest rates in 15 minutes if we have to. So, there really is no problem with raising rates, tightening monetary policy, slowing the economy, reducing inflation at the appropriate time."

Pelley: "You have what degree of confidence in your ability to control this?"

Bernanke: "One hundred percent."

Bernanke once hoped that economists might (in John Maynard Keynes' words) "get themselves thought of as humble, competent people on a level with dentists. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Fed's Applied Progressivism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.