Bernanke’s Free Ride Is Over
by Gary North
Ben Bernanke took over as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System on February 1, 2006. On February 9, 2011, his free ride ended. On that day, Paul Ryan’s House Budget Committee grilled him.
Bernanke has yet to appear before Ron Paul’s Subcommittee on Monetary Policy. Whether Bernanke will ever agree to testify before that subcommittee remains an open question. If the House does not compel him to show up, he may be able to escape stiff cross-examining. If the House refuses to compel him to testify, then the House once again has capitulated on a bipartisan basis. We shall see.
Bernanke is not used to tough questions. Some of the questioning wound up on YouTube within hours.
You may not perceive the extraordinary nature of all this. You can be sure that he perceives it. For almost a century, representatives of the Federal Reserve have been dealt with deferentially by Congress. In theory, the Federal Reserve answers to Congress. In fact, Congress asks few questions.
The sign of the FED’s operational autonomy is the absence of any independent audit by any agency of the United States government. This includes any audit of the gold that the FED legally has stored for the government since 1933. The last audit of the gold in Fort Knox was in 1953. There has never been an independent audit of the gold inside the vault of the New York Federal Reserve Bank (privately owned) at 33 Liberty Street, New York City.