TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Bill Radke: Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is on the Hill this morning in front of the House Financial Services committee — the first of two days of congressional testimony. It is the first time he’s been in that seat since January, when he faced tough questions about whether he deserves to keep his job. Joining us live with the story is Marketplace’s Gregory Warner — good morning, Gregory.
Gregory Warner: Good morning.
Radke: Are there going to be fireworks in this hearing, like last time?
Warner: Well last time, the chairman was fighting for his job. This time, he’s facing lawmakers who are fighting for theirs. Mid-term elections are this year, there’s a lot of unhappiness with Washington and unemployment, and that’s going to hang over the hearing.
Radke: How so?
Warner: Well, we can expect lawmakers to demand some apologies. Critics say the Fed bailed out Wall Street and neglected Main Street; the representatives will expect to see him take some of that blame. More importantly for the economy, of course, is the Fed’s future plan. And here’s where the chairman has to do a kind of balancing act. On the one hand, he has to present a plan for getting back to normal. Pulling back from the near-zero interest rates and the pumping of easy money that was meant to stop the recession. The question, though, is when will that tightening begin? Ward McCarthy is an economist at Jefferies and Company in New York. He said that Congress this morning will be probing for a timetable.
Ward McCarthy: To help the politicians get a better sense as to whether or not there is a risk they will be tightening monetary policy before the elections or not.
Radke: Ahh yes. Politicians: always taking the long view.
Warner: That’s right.
Radke: Marketplace’s Gregory Warner, thank you.
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