Marketplace Scratch Pad

Morning Reading

Scott Jagow Jul 27, 2009

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is really putting himself out there these days. It could be something of a campaign to keep his job, but there’s also usefulness is having him answer the questions we’ve all been dying to ask him.

PBS’s NewsHour is airing a special forum with Bernanke this week. It was taped in Kansas City, Missouri in front of an audience that was able to pose questions. In one exchange, a small business owner expresses his frustration about “too big to fail” banks, and Bernanke responds with his Great Depression defense:

I was not going to be the Federal Reserve chairman who presided over the second Great Depression. And for that reason, I had to hold my nose and stop those firms from failing. I am as disgusted about it as you are. And I think it’s absolutely critical as we go forward that we put in a new system that will make sure that when a firm does not succeed in the marketplace, that it fails.

You can watch the entire clip here:

But of course, not everyone sees things the way Bernanke does. At Forbes, John Tamny looks at lender CIT recently saving its own hide and reflects on what might’ve been had the government forced Bear Stearns to do the same last year:

Had Treasury and the Fed stepped aside in order to let Bear’s counterparties solve their own problems, the positives of such a move would be hard to overstate. For one, the solutions brought forth by those with the most to lose would have likely been far more elegant than Bear’s government-engineered fire sale to JPMorgan, plus its near death would have served as a flashing signal to other banks with questionable balance sheets to either find buyers themselves, or quickly source new capital.

Meanwhile, in the New York Times, Nouriel Roubini and Anna Schwartz have competing op-eds over whether Bernanke should keep his job or not.

NPR’s website has a new look and purpose, which is chronicled in the New York Times:

The Web site changes are part of a strategy meant to increase NPR’s share of the midday audience, between its “Morning Edition” and the late afternoon “All Things Considered,” when listening to NPR stations drops considerably, said Kinsey Wilson, senior vice president and general manager of NPR Digital Media.

Instead of short paragraphs that direct users to click on links to audio reports taken from NPR’s programs, the Web site will now offer fully reported text versions of articles, so users can click from their cubicles. “We think the midday experience is much more text-driven,” Mr. Wilson said.

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