Bernanke Didn’t Go Far Enough

Ben Bernanke gave a good speech yesterday, warning about the dangers associated with not putting the federal budget immediately on a path to credible fiscal consolidation.  But he didn’t push his points hard enough – see my column, joint with Peter Boone, on the NYT’s Economix this morning.

U.S fiscal policies helped break the recent panic by showing that the government will support aggregate spending, irrespective of what the private sector fears.  But once households and firms calm down, you need to demonstrate that the national debt is not on an explosive path.

Mr. Geithner’s speech in China this week, trying to make this claim, was not convincing.  Mr. Bernanke, politely but firmly, pointed this out yesterday.

We should also worry about the Fed, of course, because there is no indication that they are ready, willing or able to curtail their quantitative easing if the real economy definitely turns more positive.  David Wessel’s column in the WSJ today (page A2) has a sensible discussion.

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About Simon Johnson 101 Articles

Simon Johnson is the Ronald A. Kurtz (1954) Professor of Entrepreneurship at MIT's Sloan School of Management. He is also a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, D.C., a co-founder of, a widely cited website on the global economy, and is a member of the Congressional Budget Office's Panel of Economic Advisers.

Mr. Johnson appears regularly on NPR's Planet Money podcast in the Economist House Calls feature, is a weekly contributor to's Economix, and has a video blog feature on The New Republic's website. He is co-director of the NBER project on Africa and President of the Association for Comparative Economic Studies (term of office 2008-2009).

From March 2007 through the end of August 2008, Professor Johnson was the International Monetary Fund's Economic Counsellor (chief economist) and Director of its Research Department. At the IMF, Professor Johnson led the global economic outlook team, helped formulate innovative responses to worldwide financial turmoil, and was among the earliest to propose new forms of engagement for sovereign wealth funds. He was also the first IMF chief economist to have a blog.

His PhD is in economics from MIT, while his MA is from the University of Manchester and his BA is from the University of Oxford.

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