The Fed On 60 Minutes On March 10


  • CBS News – 60 Minutes: Fed Chairman Jerome Powell gives a rare interview to 60 Minutes

    Correspondent Scott Pelley interviews Powell along with his predecessors Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen.

    Powell sat with Pelley this week in Washington, D.C. for a wide-ranging discussion that includes the Fed Chairman’s remarks on interest rates, the outlook for America’s economy and whether the U.S. financial system is vulnerable to cyberattacks.

    The interview comes almost 10 years to the day since Pelley’s groundbreaking interview with then-Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke during the Great Recession. Bernanke and his successor, Janet Yellen, appear alongside Powell in one of the interviews for this report to discuss how they advised him to handle the job and the criticism that comes with it.


First, we are going to bet that the part with all three Fed heads will be about “Fed independence.” If right, is the Fed’s independence under such a threat that the Fed felt the need to get a 60 Minutes segment with all three?  Is the Fed overdoing it and risking coming off as a victim?

We hope for the Fed’s sake this part of 60 Minutes does not come off as Yellen two weeks ago. It does not serve the Fed to pick a fight with Trump. Don’t poke the bear!


Second, as noted above, it was literally 10 years ago to the day that Bernanke gave his first 60 Minutes interview (March 12, 2009).  In ourcircles, here is the legacy of that interview (also with Scott Pelley).

  • CBS News 60 Minutes – (March 12, 2009) Ben Bernanke’s Greatest ChallengeFed Chairman Discusses Recession, Financial Rescues And Recovery In Wide-Ranging 60 Minutes Interview
    Asked if it’s tax money the Fed is spending, Bernanke said, “It’s not tax money. The banks have accounts with the Fed, much the same way that you have an account in a commercial bank. So, to lend to a bank, we simply use the computer to mark up the size of the account that they have with the Fed. It’s much more akin to printing money than it is to borrowing.” You’ve been printing money?” Pelley asked. “Well, effectively,” Bernanke said. “And we need to do that, because our economy is very weak and inflation is very low. When the economy begins to recover, that will be the time that we need to unwind those programs, raise interest rates, reduce the money supply, and make sure that we have a recovery that does not involve inflation.” He’s not kidding about printing money: the Fed issues U.S. currency, which is why it says “Federal Reserve Note” on all the bills in your wallet. The Treasury Department’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing is just a few blocks from Bernanke’s office. The Fed’s mandate from Congress is to put enough money in the system for maximum employment, but not so much that it sets off inflation.

And then this about 21 months later …

  • CBS News 60 Minutes – (December 3, 2010) Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s Take On The Economy
    Talks to Scott Pelley About Unemployment, The Deficit and Pressing Economic Issues
    BERNANKE: Well, this fear of inflation, I think is way overstated. We’ve looked at it very, very carefully. We’ve analyzed it every which way. One myth that’s out there is that what we’re doing is printing money. We’re not printing money. The amount of currency in circulation is not changing. The money supply is not changing in any significant way. ..

Ben, the myth that the Fed is printing money is because you said you were!

This is why Bernanke rubs people the wrong way.  He invents the terms (i.e., “helicopter money” or “money printing”) and when the term becomes inconvenient, he does not do a mea culpa saying that he should have chosen his words better.  Instead, he goes full head of the Princeton Economics Department and condescendingly corrects everyone like they are school children on why they are wrong … for using words he invented! 

It really hurts his credibility.

So, we wonder if Pelley is going to ask him a third time to describe QE and money printing.