Damien Hoffman: A More Honest Look at Time Person of the Year Ben Bernanke

In Time‘s cute video “Why Time chose Ben Bernanke” we are told that Person of the Year is “not an award.” Rather, it’s the person who has “most influenced the news during the past year — for good or for ill.”

Fair enough. 2009 was a year of financial crisis (again) and Bernanke’s position as Wizard of Oz necessarily means he most influenced the news. But beyond that single point, Time spills some serious ink and camera time negligently declaring Bernanke our financial lord and savior. On this note, Time is as embarrassingly wrong as the Nobel Prize Committee was when awarding the Commander-in-Chief of a warring nation the previously coveted Peace Prize.

Time should do a survey and ask the ~17% under-employed how well Bernanke has done at his legally mandated job to pursue “maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.” They should then move to the second bullet point in the Federal Reserve’s mission statement and ask whether Bernanke properly supervised and regulated “banking institutions to ensure the safety and soundness of the nation’s banking and financial system and to protect the credit rights of consumers.” Since bank failures have broke into the triple digits and consumer credit got wildly out of control, I think we can pencil in another capital F.

But I would reserve the title of “Worse than F” for Bernanke’s job “maintaining the stability of the financial system and containing systemic risk that may arise in financial markets.” I must be a complete fool — or Jon Stewart has punk’d us — if Bernanke can be said to have done a great job while he denied the existence of a bubble in the housing market, stood idle as banks and mortgage brokers gave loans to people on false pretenses, ignored mortgage chop shops engineering global scams, and allowed the systemic risk of uncollateralized Credit Default Swaps.

Once again, the mainstream media has brilliantly displayed why good independent journalists and blogs are gaining the attention-share of the world. As a courtesy to the overworked and underpaid research interns at Time who seemed to miss the obvious failures I noted above, here are a few samples of journalism with hard facts to prove Time‘s article is total bollocks:

The Confidence Game in Quotes — “[A]ll the relevant quotes over the past 2 years that demonstrate how profoundly Bernanke and Paulson have been misrepresenting (or simply misunderstanding) just how extensive the crisis we are in.”

Seven Years at the Fed: Bernanke in his own words — “Some rather interesting quotes from our esteemed Fed Chief from the past few years regarding why the Fed’s approach to dealing with banks is the right one (back in 2006!), about when he’ll take away the ‘punchbowl’ (answered like a true politician), why the Fed is just as clueless about prices as you and me and in the same breath in the same clip about how the Fed’s gonna crack down on those evil subprime lenders (back in 2007), why financial supermarkets are great (also 2007), and finally how the Fed solved the inflation problem forever (back in 2003).”

Bernanke Failed Miserably — “[H]e’s made such a pig’s breakfast of this whole situation.”

For those who are a tad lazier, here is a nice Cliff’s Notes showing our allegedly prescient leader in his infinite forward-looking wisdom:

In conjunction with Time‘s “The Committee to Save the World” cover, Time has now started a trend which makes one wonder whether they have decided to compete with The Onion. Or, Time simply likes bestowing accolades onto medicine men who coincidentally proclaim themselves the cure for a disease they created.

Read more: Person of the Year, Federal Reserve, Time, Ben Bernanke, Business News


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