Bernanke: Five questions about the Federal Reserve and monetary policy

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke

Good afternoon. I am pleased to be able to join the Economic Club of Indiana for lunch today. I note that the mission of the club is "to promote an interest in, and enlighten its membership on, important governmental, economic and social issues." I hope my remarks today will meet that standard. Before diving in, I'd like to thank my former colleague at the White House, Al Hubbard, for helping to make this event possible. As the head of the National Economic Council under President Bush, Al had the difficult task of making sure that diverse perspectives on economic policy issues were given a fair hearing before recommendations went to the President. Al had to be a combination of economist, political guru, diplomat, and traffic cop, and he handled it with great skill.

My topic today is "Five Questions about the Federal Reserve and Monetary Policy." I have used a question-and-answer format in talks before, and I know from much experience that people are eager to know more about the Federal Reserve, what we do, and why we do it. And that interest is even broader than one might think. I'm a baseball fan, and I was excited to be invited to a recent batting practice of the playoff-bound Washington Nationals. I was introduced to one of the team's star players, but before I could press my questions on some fine points of baseball strategy, he asked, "So, what's the scoop on quantitative easing?" So, for that player, for club members and guests here today, and for anyone else curious about the Federal Reserve and monetary policy, I will ask and answer these five questions:

  1. What are the Fed's objectives, and how is it trying to meet them?
  2. What's the relationship between the Fed's monetary policy and the fiscal decisions of the Administration and the Congress?
  3. What is the risk that the Fed's accommodative monetary policy will lead to inflation?
  4. How does the Fed's monetary policy affect savers and investors?
  5. How is the Federal Reserve held accountable in our democratic society?

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