Tuesday, January 28, 2014 8:22am

Chairman Bernanke

Informed postmortems of Ben Bernanke’s Fed chairmanship will judge favorably the Fed's creative and aggressive policy initiatives from autumn 2008 through early 2009.

Responses
 

Source: IGM Economic Experts Panel
www.igmchicago.org/igm-economic-experts-panel

Responses weighted by each expert's confidence

Source: IGM Economic Experts Panel
www.igmchicago.org/igm-economic-experts-panel
Participant University Vote Confidence Comment Bio/Vote History
Acemoglu Daron Acemoglu MIT Uncertain 4
Bio/Vote History
         
Alesina Alberto Alesina Harvard Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Altonji Joseph Altonji Yale Agree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Auerbach Alan Auerbach Berkeley Agree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Autor David Autor MIT Agree 7
This is hearsay because I don't "do" monetary policy. But everything I've read says that Ben was extraordinarily creative and effective.
Bio/Vote History
         
Baicker Katherine Baicker Harvard Agree 1
Bio/Vote History
         
Banerjee Abhijit Banerjee MIT Strongly Agree 8
He had to find creative ways to get around a number of institutional constraints to do the needful and he did
Bio/Vote History
         
Bertrand Marianne Bertrand Chicago Agree 3
Bio/Vote History
         
Brunnermeier Markus Brunnermeier Princeton Agree 8
The ultimate judgement will depend on the exit strategy and how easily the fed will return to a more rule-based policy.
Bio/Vote History
         
Chetty Raj Chetty Harvard Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Chevalier Judith Chevalier Yale Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Currie Janet Currie Princeton Uncertain 3
Bio/Vote History
         
Cutler David Cutler Harvard Agree 5
I don't like the "informed postmortems" part. There is little agreement in macro.
Bio/Vote History
         
Deaton Angus Deaton Princeton Strongly Agree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Duffie Darrell Duffie Stanford Strongly Agree 10
Strong action as a lender of last resort was essential. This is what central banks do. In this instance, innovation by the Fed was crucial.
Bio/Vote History
         
Edlin Aaron Edlin Berkeley Strongly Agree 7
Future views of the past are hard to predict with precision. That said, things would probably have been much worse without the Feds actions
Bio/Vote History
         
Eichengreen Barry Eichengreen Berkeley Strongly Agree 8
Fed could have been even more aggressive. Could have recognized problems in shadow banking system earlier. But hindsight is 20/20.
Bio/Vote History
         
Einav Liran Einav Stanford Agree 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Fair Ray Fair Yale Uncertain 5
Let's see how the unwinding works. Also, some of the policies had bad income-distribution consequences and some were fiscal policies.
Bio/Vote History
         
Finkelstein Amy Finkelstein MIT Agree 4
Bio/Vote History
         
Goldberg Pinelopi Goldberg Yale Agree 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Goolsbee Austan Goolsbee Chicago Strongly Agree 10
No Ben, no avoiding depression. Full stop.
Bio/Vote History
         
Greenstone Michael Greenstone Chicago Agree 7
The counterfactual state of the world with muted, Fed responses is an ugly one.
Bio/Vote History
         
Hall Robert Hall Stanford Agree 8
Generally true. Some doubts about whether it would have been possible to impose haircuts on debtholders rather than use public funds.
Bio/Vote History
         
Hart Oliver Hart Harvard Uncertain 5
A policy where the Fed let financial institutions go bankrupt or helped home-owners directly might have been better, but we will never know
Bio/Vote History
         
Holmström Bengt Holmström MIT Strongly Agree 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Hoxby Caroline Hoxby Stanford Uncertain 8
In retrospect, some responses seem prescient, others misguided or based on false premises. Phil Swagel's paper is a great read on this.
-see background information here
Bio/Vote History
         
Hoynes Hilary Hoynes Berkeley Agree 5
It is hard to have confidence on this opinion. It is difficult to predict how history will play out; this is not just "economic" predictions
Bio/Vote History
         
Judd Kenneth Judd Stanford Strongly Agree 8
Bio/Vote History
         
Kaplan Steven Kaplan Chicago Strongly Agree 9
The financial crisis was a solvency crisis. The Bernanke (and Paulson) actions were instrumental in keeping the financial sector solvent.
Bio/Vote History
         
Kashyap Anil Kashyap Chicago Strongly Agree 10
Public may not appreciate this, but Bernanke's Fed helped stave off Depression 2.0. Record before and after will be more controversial.
Bio/Vote History
         
Klenow Pete Klenow Stanford Strongly Agree 6 Bio/Vote History
         
Levin Jonathan Levin Stanford Strongly Agree 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Maskin Eric Maskin Harvard Agree 8
Bio/Vote History
         
Nordhaus William Nordhaus Yale Strongly Agree 9
Bio/Vote History
         
Obstfeld Maurice Obstfeld Berkeley Strongly Agree 9
Bio/Vote History
         
Saez Emmanuel Saez Berkeley Strongly Agree 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Samuelson Larry Samuelson Yale Strongly Agree 8
We'll never know the counterfactual, but there is reason to believe that Ben Bernanke helped avert disaster, despite an ineffective Congress
Bio/Vote History
         
Scheinkman José Scheinkman Princeton Agree 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Schmalensee Richard Schmalensee MIT Strongly Agree 8
Bio/Vote History
         
Shapiro Carl Shapiro Berkeley Strongly Agree 8
Important not to forget how dire the situation was at that time.
Bio/Vote History
         
Shimer Robert Shimer Chicago Agree 5
More subjective than most questions. Likely that economists will disagree about this in the future. But I judge Bernanke's actions favorably
Bio/Vote History
         
Shin Hyun Song Shin Princeton Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Stokey Nancy Stokey Chicago Strongly Agree 10
Bernanke understood very well the policy errors of the Fed during the Great Depression and had the courage to avoid repeating them.
Bio/Vote History
         
Thaler Richard Thaler Chicago Agree 1
Hard to predict what hindsight will suggest, but it think he did well in extremely difficult times.
Bio/Vote History
         
Udry Christopher Udry Yale No Opinion
Bio/Vote History
         

10 New Economic Experts join the IGM Panel


For the past two years, our expert panelists have been informing the public about the extent to which economists agree or disagree on important public policy issues. This week, we are delighted to announce that we are expanding the IGM Economic Experts Panel to add ten new distinguished economists. Like our other experts, these new panelists have impeccable qualifications to speak on public policy matters, and their names will be familiar to other economists and the media.

To give the public a broad sense of their views on policy issues, each new expert has responded to a selection of 16 statements that our panel had previously addressed. We chose these 16 statements, which cover a wide range of important policy areas, because the original panelists' responses to them were analyzed in a paper comparing the views of our economic experts with those of the American public. You can find that paper, by Paola Sapienza and Luigi Zingales, here. The paper, along with other analyses of the experts' views, was discussed during the American Economic Association annual meetings, and the video can be found here.

The new panelists' responses to these statements can be seen on their individual voting history pages. Our ten new economic experts are:

Abhijit Banerjee (MIT)
Markus K. Brunnermeier (Princeton)
Liran Einav (Stanford)
Amy Finkelstein (MIT)
Oliver Hart (Harvard)
Hilary Hoynes (Berkeley)
Steven N. Kaplan (Chicago)
Larry Samuelson (Yale)
Carl Shapiro (Berkeley)
Robert Shimer (Chicago)


Please note that, for the 16 previous topics on which these new panelists have voted, we left the charts showing the distribution of responses unchanged. Those charts reflect the responses that our original panelists gave at the time, and we have not altered them to reflect the views of the new experts.

We have also taken this opportunity to ask our original panelists whether they would vote differently on any of the statements we have asked about in the past. Several experts chose to highlight statements to which they would currently respond differently. In such cases, you will see this "revote" below the panelist's original vote. We think you will enjoy seeing examples of statements on which some experts have reconsidered.

As with the 16 previous statements voted on by new panelists, these "revote" responses are not reflected in the chart that we display showing the distribution of views for that topic: all the charts for previous questions reflect the distribution of views that the experts expressed when the statement was originally posed.

About the IGM Economic Experts Panel

This panel explores the extent to which economists agree or disagree on major public policy issues. To assess such beliefs we assembled this panel of expert economists. Statistics teaches that a sample of (say) 40 opinions will be adequate to reflect a broader population if the sample is representative of that population.

To that end, our panel was chosen to include distinguished experts with a keen interest in public policy from the major areas of economics, to be geographically diverse, and to include Democrats, Republicans and Independents as well as older and younger scholars. The panel members are all senior faculty at the most elite research universities in the United States. The panel includes Nobel Laureates, John Bates Clark Medalists, fellows of the Econometric society, past Presidents of both the American Economics Association and American Finance Association, past Democratic and Republican members of the President's Council of Economics, and past and current editors of the leading journals in the profession. This selection process has the advantage of not only providing a set of panelists whose names will be familiar to other economists and the media, but also delivers a group with impeccable qualifications to speak on public policy matters.

Finally, it is important to explain one aspect of our voting process. In some instances a panelist may neither agree nor disagree with a statement, and there can be two very different reasons for this. One case occurs when an economist is an expert on a topic and yet sees the evidence on the exact claim at hand as ambiguous. In such cases our panelists vote "uncertain". A second case relates to statements on topics so far removed from the economist's expertise that he or she feels unqualified to vote. In this case, our panelists vote "no opinion".

The Economic Experts Panel questions are emailed individually to the members of the panel, and each responds electronically at his or her convenience. Panelists may consult whatever resources they like before answering.

Members of the public are free to suggest questions (see link below), and the panelists suggest many themselves. Members of the IGM faculty are responsible for deciding the final version of each week’s question. We usually send a draft of the question to the panel in advance, and invite them to point out problems with the wording if they see any. In response, we typically receive a handful of suggested clarifications from individual experts. This process helps us to spot inconsistencies, and to reduce vagueness or problems of interpretation.

The panel data are copyrighted by the Initiative on Global Markets and are being analyzed for an article to appear in a leading peer-reviewed journal.

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