TEXT OF INTERVIEW
BILL RADKE: Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke is testifying this morning to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission about the meltdown of 2008 — but the man has his hands full here in 2010. Economist Diane Swonk of Mesirow Financial joins us live each Thursday from Chicago. Good morning, Diane.
DIANE SWONK: Good morning.
RADKE: What’s Bernanke’s next move?
SWONK: Well I think his next move will be to expand the balance sheet and further stimulate, but it will be highly contingent on things like tomorrow’s employment report, which I think will be another disappointing number. We’ve seen a lot of disappointing data out there and this is a chairman that’s made clear he will do everything he can in his power to avoid a double-dip recession.
RADKE: Well you mention expanding what the Fed is doing, it’s been a matter of internal debate. You know Ben Bernanke. You were at his symposium in Jackson Hole last week, how’s he holding up?
SWONK: Yeah, I think this is a very difficult time. We are in very unchartered waters, economic waters. There’s no precedent for what we’re doing. And in that kind of environment, smart people disagree. The disagreements within the Federal Reserve about what to do next go deep and there’s a very badly divided Fed. He’s going to have to corral — not just cats, it looks like lions now — to get the next move he wants to make out of the Federal Reserve.
RADKE: Would you say there’s been a little, would you say, disloyalty around him?
SWONK: I think that there was a lot of disloyalty around him. And I think that although smart people disagree, there’s ways to do it in respectful ways and there’s ways to do it in disrespectful ways. And I think Ben Bernanke’s had a rough couple of weeks.
RADKE: Diane Swonk of Mesirow Financial, thanks. Good to talk to you.
SWONK: Thank you.