Senator Sanders (I-VT) has placed a hold on Ben Bernanke’s re-nomination as head of the Federal Reserve. The premise on Daily Kos seems to be that because Bernanke was nominated by Bush, and he was instrumental in the bank bailout, then he should go. Actually, Sanders seems to want some answers from Bernanke about the bailout and Wall Street, but that isn’t reflected in the mood of the bloggers.
I think that the sources and causes of the economic meltdown last year are far more complicated than the bank bailout and Bernanke’s nomination. I’m pretty sure that the economy would be in far worse trouble if there had not been the bailout. It certainly wouldn’t be business as usual. Granted, business as usual does involve bankers continuing to make large salaries, but it also involves people keeping their savings, most people are able to eat every day, and there are still jobs, even if they are scarcer than before. I don’t know about other people, but I am thankful for every day that does not see this country in a new Depression (it’s close, maybe, but not there yet).
And while we all might like to see Wall Street fail, the simple fact of the matter is, they have our money. Even if you never invest in stocks or bonds, if your money is in a bank, it is invested. To unpick the relationships between the poorest of bank users and the tycoons of Wall Street would mean taking apart the entire economy. It would mean the loss of conveniences I think most of us take for granted, like check cashing and money on demand, like credit cards and debit cards, like mortgages and home equity loans.
And the moment you convert to a cash only economy (or bead-only, if you want it really simple), some genius is going to realize that she can keep old Mrs. Jones’ savings of ten beads, give her 1 bead in interest, and then give 9 beads to the fruit stand to trade for a new roof. The fruit stand pays back 11 beads, and Ms. Genius realizes a profit. Well there you go, we’ve got a bank again.
Back in reality, I hope Sen. Sanders does not make his hold permanent. I think Bernanke has done the best he can with a bad job, and that as long as he answers the questions the Senate asks of him, he should keep his job. And while we all may make fun of Wall Street tycoons and their need for stability, spooking the markets is no laughing matter. One wrong move and we will find ourselves tumbling down into the mire of another Depression.