Bernanke, the Reluctant Revolutionary

Ben Bernanke may seem cautious right now, but don’t forget how radical he’s already been
Illustration by David Parkins (after Milton Glaser)

Inside Ben Bernanke are two birds. The hawk hates inflation. The dove hates unemployment. On Aug. 1 the chairman of the Federal Reserve expressed his inner hawk. Despite the longest period of high unemployment since the Great Depression and inflation that’s actually below the Fed’s target, the rate-setting committee that he runs stood pat. At the end of a two-day meeting in Washington, the Federal Open Market Committee issued a statement acknowledging that the U.S. economy has “decelerated somewhat” but did not announce any fresh measures to stimulate growth. Doves were dismayed, if not surprised: “They really took a pass,” says University of Oregon economist Tim Duy, who runs the Fed Watch blog.

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