Friday, June 11, 2010

A Pre-Law Student's View of An Economist's View on the View from Federal Reserve

A major topic of concern for the past year or so has been the current economic recession. Recently, I had the chance to attend an open Budget Committee Hearing on the “State of the Economy: View from the Federal Reserve”. The witness was Dr. Ben S. Bernanke, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. To begin the hearing, Chairman of the House Budget Committee John Spratt (D-SC) and Ranking Member Paul Ryan (R-WI) presented their opening statements.
Bernanke then opened his testimony with a bit of good news, “The recovery in economic activity that began in the second half of last year has continued at a moderate pace so far this year.” He continued on, citing the recent projection of a 3.5% growth of the GDP over the course of 2010 by the Federal Reserve Governors and Reserve Bank presidents. Because of this rate, Bernanke claimed that inflation is likely to remain subdued. He also stated that a variety of markets have been recently boosted which shows continued strength in the second quarter. While this is good news, Bernanke asserted that there are still significant restraints on the pace of recovery. Although in the housing market, sales and construction have been temporarily boosted, the underlying housing market activity is not that strong. The Chairman then spoke about the hit that the labor market took after the recession; however, he did say that we have seen some modest improvement in employment. Bernanke summarized his testimony by saying that while the economy is showing some improvement, policy makers must make a commitment to stabilize it. The hearing then proceeded with questions from each of the representatives present directed to Bernanke.
Although I have never taken an economics class, everything he reported made a lot of sense to me. I feel this was because he put it in a language that was professional but that the common citizen could understand. Since there were a large number of other interns present, I am sure my appreciation was shared by the group as a whole. I found this hearing highly informative in both an economical and political sense. Bernanke’s figures and explanation of why the economy was performing in such a manner was very interesting to me. From a legal standpoint, it was also fascinating to hear how the members phrased their individual questions and concerns. As a pre-law student, I could definitely hear how each member took care to state their questions correctly. I think that this is a skill that many members of Congress must hone during their time in office so that not only their point of view is conveyed, but also to make sure the question elicits a response that they desire.
The opportunity to attend this congressional hearing was greatly appreciated. I feel that I walked away from the hearing with a much better understanding of how the Federal Reserve deals with the Hill’s leaders as well as a better grasp of where our economy is today. I feel confident that policy makers will enact the proper steps to ensure a commitment to the stabilization of the economy. I just hope that this can be reached quickly and in a bipartisan manner.

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