Time Magazine has chosen Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, its "Person of the Year 2009." The article explains, "Bernanke is the 56-year-old chairman of the Federal Reserve, the central bank of the U.S., the most important and least understood force shaping the American — and global — economy. Those green bills featuring dead Presidents are labeled "Federal Reserve Note" for a reason: the Fed controls the money supply. It is an independent government agency that conducts monetary policy, which means it sets short-term interest rates — which means it has immense influence over inflation, unemployment, the strength of the dollar and the strength of your wallet. And ever since global credit markets began imploding, its mild-mannered chairman has dramatically expanded those powers and reinvented the Fed."
Does Ben Bernanke sound like somebody with whom you would enjoy chatting? Why or why not?
Do you think that such an important position as Chair of the Federal Reserve Board should remain unelected? Why or why not? What are some advantages to having this position filled by appointment instead of election? What are some disadvantages?
Somebody once said that the most important factor of a healthy economy is consumer confidence? What does the term "consumer confidence" mean? Do you think that this understanding of the economy is correct? Why or why not?
What three questions would you most like to answer about the United States economy? Do you think that there are some questions about the economy that even Ben Bernanke cannot answer? Why or why not?