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Joined by his two predecessors, Ben Bernanke marked the 100th anniversary of the Federal Reserve by reflecting on the bold actions past chairmen have had to take in the best interest of the U.S. economy.
To make his point, Bernanke referred light-heartedly to a two-by-four he keeps in his office. It was mailed to the Fed by homebuilders protesting high interest rates the central bank used under then-Chairman Paul Volcker in the late 1970s and early 1980s to fight inflation.
Bernanke said writing on the piece of lumber “communicates some distinctly unfavorable views of high interest rates and their effects on the economy.”
For Bernanke, the fight has been the opposite. He’s kept interest rates at record lows and pursued “controversial but necessary measures” to fight a severe financial crisis.
“Dispassionate analysis, expertise and commitment to public service _ all are values that have served us well,” Bernanke told the audience gathered in the Fed’s massive board room. “But one value that strikes me as having been at least as important as any other has been the Federal Reserve’s willingness, during its finest hours, to stand up to political pressure and make tough but necessary choices.”
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