Christopher Grey is CFO and co-founder of CapLinked, an online platform for connecting entrepreneurs and investors. He was a senior executive and managing partner in private equity, finance and banking for 15 years and directly involved in the origination and management of billions of dollars of debt and equity investments in various industries. He founded Crestridge Investments and Third Wave Partners, and was managing director of Emigrant Bank, the nation'sMore ↓Less ↑
America and the world celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden at the hands of US Special Forces. This achievement, years in the making, and carried out with no loss of civilian life or U.S. troops, represents the best America has to offer.
Our armed forces, intelligence and special force units in particular, are the best people we have and arguably the best in the world. Every American and every freedom-loving citizen of the world should thank them.
They are not only skilled and brave but humble and unselfish. The rest of us owe them a great debt that can never be repaid.
However, we also saw this week the worst of America. What was that? It was the shameful press conference by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Here’s why.
With every word out of his mouth, most of which are lies or half truths, Bernanke reinforces the worst elements of this country. He is arrogant, petulant, cowardly, ignorant, and vain.
Let’s start with arrogant. Here is one man who seems to believe he and his minions can determine whether or not inflation is a problem. He can determine if interest rates are set correctly. He knows the right amount of unemployment, the right level of wages, the value and direction of the dollar, inflation expectations, and a myriad of other highly complex economic variables. The man basically thinks he is the economic equivalent of God.
Bernanke is also petulant. Any time anyone questions his infinite wisdom you can see the irritation and condescension all over his face and hear it in the tone of his voice with every word he says.
It’s as if he can barely comprehend how anyone, even his supposedly legitimate supervisors in the Senate, could dare to question his knowledge or judgment. He sounds and looks much like a teenager being questioned by a parent in so much as he appears to feel that these old folks just don’t get it and never will. Is this the best we can expect from the most powerful man in America? We have to watch the scowls and winces of a man who displays the attitude of a spoiled teenager.
Why is Bernanke a coward? It’s because he doesn’t have the courage to admit why he has chosen these monetary policies. He lies and says it’s because he wants to reduce unemployment and create jobs.
This is total nonsense and absolutely not true. There is no evidence at all that these ultra loose monetary policies create jobs or even add anything substantial to economic growth.
Japan is a great example of just how ineffective these policies really are. Bernanke is keeping rates at zero and doing quantitative easing for two primary reasons: 1) he wants to help Wall Street banks earn back the money they lost in the financial crisis and 2) he wants to help the U.S. Treasury continue borrowing at very low interest rates to support the extreme levels of deficit spending we have going right now.
His unwillingness and fear to admit his true motives, and his repeated attempts to hide behind completely fake efforts to help unemployed people, are cowardly and shameful.
Bernanke is also ignorant. Although he is overeducated and experienced, he is ignorant of basic economics and common sense. He turns a blind eye to rampant commodity inflation that is crushing the poor in emerging economies and squeezing everyone but the top few percent here in America.
He claims this is temporary and will soon go away. Why will it go away? Why is it temporary? He offers no evidence or even reasoning to support these statements. He simply asserts these things as though his statements are obvious and anyone who doesn’t see it is a fool.
The facts are all lined up against him. He’s technically correct that CPI inflation in the U.S. is low, but that’s because wages are stagnant. The cost of living is rising all around us. Stagnant wages, which is what’s keeping the overall inflation rate down, just adds to the pain being felt by everyone other than the wealthy. Bernanke ignores all of this.
Above all else, Bernanke is vain. He is so pleased with himself and his self-perceived brilliance. He marvels at how the stock market has doubled since he started quantitative easing two years ago. He pats himself on the back every chance he gets for how the Fed has done so much to prevent the economy from falling into a Depression.
He believes that he and his minions have unique and special powers to control economic activity and asset markets. Whenever evidence is presented that does not agree with his self-perceived magnificence, he dismisses it.
Much like the story of the emperor’s new clothes, Bernanke is a naked man who believes that he is wearing the finest threads. Even a child could see that he is delusional in his beliefs, yet most reporters, academics, and economists cannot see it. They are blinded by his power and his vanity. Or maybe they’re just afraid to speak the obvious truth because to acknowledge it would be too scary.
Regardless, the facts are what they are. After years of relentless money printing, unemployment has barely declined. Few jobs have been created. The cost of living for average Americans has soared. The real economy is stagnant. The beneficiaries of Bernanke’s policies are commodity producers like the Saudis, wealthy speculators like George Soros, the big Wall Street banks like JP Morgan, and the U.S. Treasury.
Trillions of dollars have been printed (i.e. stolen from holders of U.S. dollars) and very few people have benefited. It is a financial fraud that makes Bernie Madoff look small time.
But to end on a more positive note, let’s remember what America does well. We’re very good at killing bad guys like bin Laden. Let’s not forget that. Nobody, not even the duplicitous Chairman Bernanke, can take that away from us. We need more people like the U.S. Special Forces and fewer self-righteous bankers.