To me, there is no straighter shooter than Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. For years he has been communicating us his plans to, both contingent and actual -- and he has not deviated from them once. He tells the truth and, while his tactics are unconventional, the situation in 2008 certainly wasn't similar to any we had seen for nearly 70 years.
To the dismay of many "wannabe" economists, Chairman Ben has ventured into a world from which very few have returned unscathed. Is this a potential disaster? He'll have none of it!
Bernanke has risked major future inflationary conditions all for the betterment of the U.S. economy and, in a broader sense, the global economy. Some would call him a traitor because he has diminished the value of the precious greenback, the world's reserve currency. Others would call him a true hero, a renaissance man who refuses to be guided by political rhetoric and influence. Bernanke knows what he wants to achieve, and it's apparent he will not be deterred.
This week the chairman made some comments at the Economic Club of New York and, as usual, the market registered a reaction. Initially it was one of disappointment -- I suppose some were hoping Big Ben was going to come out with some more quantitative easing, or at least announce the plans into 2013, but no dice there. He employed the same language as he'd done in the last meeting, and the last appearance, and so on. As a result, the markets fell on the lack of clarity.
But consider that the Fed has been blazing a trail for months -- and, while it's been a consistent one, the Fed has also been ahead of the curve, reacting to economic data as the numbers are delivered. There really isn't much more the central bank can do; in the words of Bernanke earlier this year, "monetary policy is not a panacea."
He has been commenting for several months about the need for a fix to fiscal policy. However, one quote from the other day got my attention: "2013 can be a good year," Bernanke said, if the fiscal cliff can be avoided.
I take him at his word here. After all, we're seeing an improving economy in the U.S., along with ramped-up growth in China and a bottom in Europe. The next year could be a nice pivot higher -- if.