It’s a crucial time for the Fed.
Today the Federal Open Market Committee could decide to begin tapering bond purchases as it starts to dial back an unprecedented stimulus. And we’re set to get a nominee for Fed chair anytime now to take over for Ben Bernanke when his term ends January 31, 2014.
The Daily Ticker sat down with director Jim Bruce, who interviewed many Fed officials - past and present - for his new documentary “Money for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve" to pick his brain about his biggest Fed takeaways.
Bruce says Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen, now the frontrunner for the top job, has the right characteristics for Fed chair: “integrity, and she’s tougher than some people think she might be. She’s known as a dove but I think she’d be willing to stand up to a lot of pressure, which you want in a Fed leader.”
However Bruce is worried about whether Yellen has the right ideas about Fed policy and risks in the marketplace. In general, Bruce is worried there may be a sense of complacency at the Fed about the costs of current monetary policy and the risks of unwinding it.
“That’s what I worry about personally,” he says. “That they’re pretty comfortable with our current situation, and they were pretty comfortable in 2005 and 2006 that they had a handle on the sort of ‘private leverage bubble’ that was blowing up at that time. Right now I worry it’s the Fed balance sheet that’s expanding so quickly. Does the Fed have a handle on those risks?”
In his film, Bruce paints former Fed Chair Paul Volcker as a hero for making important but unpopular decisions about monetary policy. And he casts Alan Greenspan, Volcker's successor, as the villain for contributing to and mishandling financial bubbles. As for Bernanke’s legacy, check out the video to see what Bruce thinks that will be.
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