I am a devoted fan of “24″ and its hero Jack Bauer. Bauer is the guy who uses questionable methods to achieve results which are usually to thwart destruction of the USA and the American Way. However, a short time after each save Bauer is taken to task for his “excesses” commited in saving the world. While the President thanks him for his service, a Congressional panel rakes him over the coals and, in past episodes, punished him.
Now Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke finds himself in a “Bauer” situation. There is no question that his actions of late 2008 taken in consort with Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson saved the US economy from falling over the precipice. While Paulson and his successor, Tim Geithner, used the TARP fund to save the financial sector, Bernanke used the considerable resources of the Federal Reserve Bank to complement their actions.
Now Bernanke is facing harsh questioning by the US Senate in its hearings to renew his contract. Most Senators agree that his actions over the last year and a half have been critical to saving the economy. However, they also contend that his lack of attention to financial conditions, if not the actions he did take earlier, led to the financial crash.
Maybe Bauer can give Bernanke a few words of consolation.