Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bernenke, Hero or Goat?

Fed Chairman Bernenke didn't make a good first impression. He seemed to react quickly to stock market downturns in reducing rates rather than taking the more measured "wait and see" attitude of the Greenspan years. This lead to a perception that Bernenke was out of his league. Now, it may turn out that Ben Bernenke made exactly the right moves at the right times.

The country was and is experiencing a credit crunch. People and businesses are having a tough time finding capital. Bernenke's swift move to add liquidity to the marketplace and bring down interest rates despite a falling dollar may make this one of the shortest and shallowist economic downturns in recent history.

Housing slumps are always followed by a rebound, led first by bargain hunters. This normally takes quite some time as interest rates gradually come down and the economy slowly strengthens. This time around interest rates have come down fast and many are of a mind that they can't go much lower. The bargain hunters may enter the game very early in the cycle. At the same time, refinancing is bouying the mortgage broker market, where many individuals got hit hard.

On the world stage the dollar may be poised for a big comeback as the US has gotten ahead of the curve and is taking steps to avert a recession well before one sets in. Europe's delay may mean they'll be cutting rates and looking for answers while our economy is entering a new phase of growth.

The jury's still out on Bernenke's policies, but in this fast-paced market place, a fast-paced Fed chairman may be just what the doctor ordered.

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