Will the Fed have too much power?

Jill Barshay Apr 1, 2008

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will be on Capitol Hill today. It’s his first congressional hearing since the Fed OK’d the Bear Stearns deal.
If the Fed is given extra authority in the future, Mr. Bernanke could have a lot more to answer for. Jill Barshay reports.


Jill Barshay: Financial super cop. That’s what the Fed would become under the Bush Administration’s new regulation plan.

Lou Crandall is chief economist at Wrightson ICAP. He says the Fed wouldn’t have to wait for another Bear Stearns to collapse.

Lou Crandall: The Fed is given the right to roam the landscape, looking for problems. The Fed will be able to act pre-emptively.

If the Fed gets these powers, it could put the brakes on risky trading strategies before they threaten the whole economy. But Crandall and other critics question whether an independent, unelected central bank should have that much power over the entire financial sector.

Crandall: It’s not at clear that questions of financial regulation should be wholly independent of the political process.

Nothing’s going to happen until Congress says it’s OK. Crandall says that’ll likely take years.

I’m Jill Barshay for Marketplace.

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