For Ben S. Bernanke, the final act of his contentious confirmation process did not require him to draw on his deep reserves of equanimity. The Fed chairman was formally sworn in for a second four-year term as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System yesterday afternoon in a quiet ceremony in the atrium of the Board’s main building in Washington. He wife, Anna Bernanke, was among the witnesses. Fed Vice-Chairman Donald L. Kohn administered the oath before assembled Board employees.
As he said, “the Fed moved rapidly, forcefully, and creatively to confront the deepest financial crisis since the Great Depression…. This swift and effective response would not have been possible without the remarkable dedication, professionalism, and personal sacrifices of the Federal Reserve staff. I would like to express my deep appreciation to all of you for your creativity and hard work.”
Bernanke said that in many respects the extraordinary crisis “has shown this institution at its finest.” A glance at some of the post confirmation posts on the internet indicates that quite a few people do not share that assessment. Bernanke didn’t specifically address his critics, but did say that “this institution, like our country, faces enormous challenges….”
Despite the resumption of economic growth, the Fed chairman said that “far too many people remain unemployed, foreclosures continue at record rates, and bank credit continues to contract.”
He also acknowledged—speaking of the Fed and other agencies—that “the crisis revealed weaknesses and gaps in the regulation and supervision of financial institutions and financial markets.”
He ticked off several initiatives the Fed Board has completed or which are under way to improve that situation. With the Fed’s traditional independence threatened by measures under consideration in Congress, Bernanke made an appeal to maintain that independence, but also said the institution should be prepared to do even more to meet its obligations of transparency, responsiveness, and accountability.
Read the full remarks made by Chairman Bernanke