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Bernanke's public approval falls as the economy slows

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks during the conference 'New Building Blocks for Jobs and Economic Growth' at Georgetown University.

UPDATED REPORT

JEREMY HOBSON: Faith in Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke seems to be slipping. A new Bloomberg Poll finds only 30 percent of those surveyed approve of the job Bernanke is doing. But does a Fed chairman really have to worry about polls?

We asked Marketplace's Nancy Marshall Genzer to find out.


NANCY MARSHALL GENZER: Most of the people polled had a negative opinion of Bernanke or didn't know how to rate his performance. I did my own small street survey this morning in downtown Washington. I ran into David Canty, a carpenter. Canty wishes Bernanke would do more to boost new construction.

DAVID CANTY: Create incentives I think to be able to get it out there and invest in buildings and real stuff.

But hey -- Bernanke's not running for re-election. He doesn't have pollsters at his elbow. So who cares what people think, right? Not exactly.

Catherine Mann is a former Fed economist who now teaches at Brandeis University. She says negative polls won't change Fed policy. But Bernanke can't dismiss them.

CATHERINE MANN: So he certainly will look at this survey and be dismayed that it's a barometer of the lack of public confidence in the economy and policy.

Mann says if consumers aren't confident, they won't spend enough to help get the economy humming again.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.



ORIGINAL REPORT

JEREMY HOBSON: Well back in Washington there's a new Bloomberg survey out today that finds fewer people have a favorable view of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The Fed Chief has been trying to soften his image with regular press conferences to explain Fed policy like the one he held earlier this week.

Still, according to the survey only 30 percent have a positive opinion of Bernanke. Twenty six percent had an negative view. And almost half aren't sure -- maybe they don't know who he is.

Marketplace's Nancy Marshall Genzer has been out on the streets of Washington this morning to see what people there think of Bernanke. And she's with us live. Good morning.

NANCY MARSHALL GENZER: Good morning Jeremy.

HOBSON: Well, Nancy, you're just a few blocks away from the Fed's headquarters. I assume people around you do know who he is.

MARSHALL GENZER: Yeah although one person I talked to had this response when I asked who Bernake was.

DAVID CANTY: Hell of a golfer.

That was David Canty, he was kidding. He's a carpenter here in Washington. He actually is very aware of who Bernanke is. Canty helps build office buildings. He gives Bernanke a thumbs down, Jeremy. Canty says he doesn't know anything about monetary policy -- he's a carpenter. But Canty does know the Fed chairman has the power to make decisions that would trickle down to him.

CANTY: Create incentives I think for the investors, and people with the money to be able to get it out there and invest in buildings and real stuff.

Canty says he's only got work for the next few days. And after that it's pretty much day to day. The company he's been working for just laid off 50 people, so bad news from his end.

HOBSON: Bad news for Bernanke. Marketplace's Nancy Marshall Genzer in Washington, thanks.

MARSHALL GENZER: You're welcome.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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