Dove or Hawk? Bernanke’s Record

In yesterday’s testimony at the U.S. Senate Ben Bernanke was accused of policies that could potentially generate high inflation. Senator Corker accused the Fed Chairman of nor being concerned enough about inflation by saying “I don’t think there’s any question that you would be the biggest dove since World War II”. The term “dove” in the context of central banks is used to describe policies that put more weight on unemployment and less on inflation (as opposed to “hawks” who do the opposite). Ben Bernanke defended himself by mentioning that he has one of the strongest records in terms of inflation of any previous Chairman.

Below is a quick check on both the inflation as well as the unemployment record of the last six chairmen of the US Fed. Ben Bernanke has so far produced one of the lowest inflation rates since the 1950s. When it comes to unemployment, his record is not that positive, only second to Paul Volcker in terms of high unemployment rates.

Comparing performance of central banks without controlling for other factors (such as the depth and frequency of economic crisis or shocks during their mandates) is not fair but at a minimum it provides some basic facts to back the statement by Ben Bernanke that it is difficult to see his record as someone who put too much weight on unemployment and too little on inflation.

About Antonio Fatás 136 Articles

Affiliation: INSEAD

Antonio Fatás is professor of Economics at INSEAD. He is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Economic and Policy Research in London and has worked as external consultant for international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund, the OECD and the World Bank.

He teaches the macroeconomics core course in the MBA program as well as different modules on the global macroeconomic environment in Executive Education. His research is focused on the study of business cycles, fiscal policy and the economics of European integration. His articles appear in academic journals such as the Quarterly Journal of Economics, Journal of Monetary Economics, Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Journal of Public Economics, Journal of International Economics, Journal of Economic Growth, European Economic Review or Economic Policy.

Professor Fatás earned his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University, and M.S. from Universidad de Valencia.

Visit: Antonio Fatás Blog, Personal Page

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