Mr. Bernanke: What have you done for me lately?

Scott Tong Feb 3, 2011
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Mr. Bernanke: What have you done for me lately?

Scott Tong Feb 3, 2011
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TEXT OF STORY

JEREMY HOBSON: Some people like to call Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke the Wizard of Oz. As in the man behind the curtain, pulling the strings that make our economy what it is while trying not to say too much about what he’s doing. Well, today, that all changes for a moment. Ben Bernanke will be taking questions at the National Press Club.

Marketplace’s Scott Tong joins us live now from Washington with more. Hi Scott.

SCOTT TONG: Hi Jeremy.

HOBSON: Why is the Wizard of Oz, Mr. Bernanke, going in front of the microphones today?

TONG: Well he’s done this kind of thing a couple times before. He did a PBS town hall meeting, he went on “60 Minutes,” and he did speak at the Press Club in 2009. Back then, he explained the Fed needs to be more transparent about its efforts to boost the economy. Alan Blinder is a former vice chairman at the Fed. And he says like a lot of us, the Federal Reserve is misunderstood.

ALAN BLINDER: Part of it is the Fed’s own fault. It hasn’t explained itself sufficiently often, sufficiently fully, and sufficiently in clear, plain English.

HOBSON: So people want to know more about what’s going on behind the scenes of the Fed. What are they going to be asking today, Scott?

TONG: Well last time he was on Capitol Hill, Mr. Bernanke was asked by members of Congress about the Fed buying billions in treasury bonds, which critics say may stoke inflation. The jobs recovery is still slow, he should expect to be asked about that. Three years ago, Bernanke showed, with the press, that he can deal with tough questions. And he showed he’s got a funny bone. You know one reporter asked him if steroid user Alex Rodriguez should get into the Hall of Fame. Bernanke stepped up to the mic and he said, “I like baseball.”

HOBSON: Very good answers. All right, Marketplace’s Scott Tong in Washington. Thanks.

TONG: OK you’re welcome.

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