Sunday, July 19, 2009

Anna Schwartz on the Bernanke Fed

From Newsweek:

Schwartz still believes that, as she told The Wall Street Journal last fall, Bernanke is fighting the last war. Yes, he's studiously taken the opposite course from what the Fed did in the early 1930s. But she maintains that the current crisis is less a liquidity problem and more a crisis of confidence because of the market's doubts about the toxic assets on banks' balance sheets.

"What disturbed me particularly about Bernanke's performance was the insistence on bailouts," said Schwartz in a flood of passion. "If he had been absolutely candid to the markets and explained on what basis he would choose to bail out firms, and which ones he would not consider as meriting bailout, I think if the market had understood that he had principles and they would be able to understand a decision in light of these principles, there would have been much less bewilderment about why did they rescue Bear Stearns and pass over Lehman Brothers. Even though he has made a lot of rhetorical statements about the importance of transparency, he has not been transparent. I think that's a real failure. I think the Fed or the government has no business bailing out a firm that is not solvent."