Bernanke strikes back with bold statements

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: Ben Bernanke's over in Germany today. There's a big conference of central bankers going over there. And in a speech today, Mr. Bernanke gave about as good as he's been getting.

Ever since the Federal Reserve announced its plans to buy up $600 billion in Treasury bonds as a way to keep the economy going, complaints about it have been mounting. Actually, they've gone way past complaints. The German Finance minister even called Bernanke's plan -- quantitative easing -- "clueless." Today, the Fed chairman made it very clear what he thinks about what the rest of the world thinks about him.

Marketplace's Jennifer Collins reports.


Jennifer Collins: Central bankers are usually a pretty measured lot -- especially on the world stage. But in his strongest words yet, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke made it clear today that global recovery won't happen without a strong U.S. economy. And that means fostering growth and tackling unemployment here at home.

Ben Bernanke: The United States runs the risk of seeing millions of workers unemployed or under employed for many years. As a society we should find that outcome unacceptable.

The Fed has been under fire for a $600 billion bond-buying spree. The intent is to stimulate the American economy. Foreign banks have accused the Fed of intentionally trying to drive down the value of the dollar and boost the market for U.S. exports.

Morris Davis at the University of Wisconsin says what the world thinks isn't what's most important.

Morris Davis: The nice thing about having your own currency is that you can do what you want with it.

Bernanke's speech was delivered in Germany but it was meant for U.S. ears, too. Bill Cheney is chief economist at John Hancock Financial.

Bill Cheney: Bernanke is clearly talking both to a foreign audience and to a domestic audience. And part of the message to the domestic audience is that he is concerned about U.S. inflation and U.S. unemployment and that's why he's doing what he's doing.

Cheney says we'll know in the next few months if the Fed's policy is working and whether Bernanke can take a break from taking punches.

I'm Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.

About the author

Jennifer Collins is a reporter for the Marketplace portfolio of programs. She is based in Los Angeles, where she covers media, retail, the entertainment industry and the West Coast.

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