In his new memoir, former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke says that he regrets more executives didn’t end up in federal prison for their role in the Great Recession.
He also regrets that the Fed was too slow to realize the depth of the problem, and that he didn’t put enough PR into selling the massive bailout to the American people.
For one thing, he says that more corporate executives should have gone to jail for their misdeeds. The Justice Department and other law-enforcement agencies focused on indicting or threatening to indict financial firms, he notes, "but it would have been my preference to have more investigation of individual action, since obviously everything what went wrong or was illegal was done by some individual, not by an abstract firm."Sponsor Content
He also offers a detailed rebuttal to critics who argue the government could and should have done more to rescue Lehman Brothers from bankruptcy in the worst weekend of a tumultuous time. "We were very, very determined not to let it collapse," he says. "But we were out of bullets at that point."
Still, he does acknowledge some missteps by the Fed. Analysts were slow to realize just how serious the economic downturn would become, and he faults himself for not doing more to explain to Americans why it was in their interests to rescue the financial firms that had helped cause it.
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