MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Inside the downtown Hilton Hotel ballroom, the state’s business world gathered to hear a glimmer of hope from the man at the center of the storm.

Federal Reserve Chairman Dr. Ben Bernanke was the keynote speaker at the Economic Club of Minnesota’s season inaugural luncheon.

Bernanke began his 20 minute carefully scripted address saying, “the recovery from the crisis has been much less robust than we had hoped.”

Clearly, getting such a speaker to address issues dealing with the nation’s sluggish economy was a major coup for the club. Bernanke packed them in, speaking to more than 800 attendees.

Bernanke’s speech was intended to address the recent recession’s root causes as well as explain the slow climb out. Bernanke voiced some surprise at how this recovery is different than from most recessions dating back to World War II, particularly as measured in consumer spending and confidence.

“Readings on consumer confidence have fallen substantially in recent months as people have become more pessimistic about economic conditions and their own financial prospects,” said Bernanke.

Bernanke spoke of the nation’s sluggish rate of growth, with the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) barely putting along at under 1-percent. He said some of the weakness can be attributed to temporary factors, including strains on consumer and business budgets caused by high oil prices and the effects of the Japan tsunami and earthquake.

Particularly concerning is the slow recovery in the housing market, as home building remains anemic.

“The rate of new home construction has remained at less than one-third of its pre-crisis level,” said Bernanke.

Yet, Bernanke gave no hints of further steps to boost the recovery. Still, Investment banker Tom Sagissor is impressed with Bernanke’s long-term optimism.

“He’s 24-7,” said Sagissor. “He is concerned about the economy and the people of the United States and is concerned about where we are today versus where we want to be in the future.”

Bernanke ended his brief engagement on a lighter note. When he was asked for his take on Hollywood’s portrayal of him in the film, “Too Big to Fail,” Bernanke didn’t skip a beat. He quickly quipped, “I didn’t see that movie — I saw the original.”

WCCO’s Dave Lee Interviews Mark Kennedy

Comments (46)
  1. Level Headed says:

    Ben has done enough for the economy. He’s created massive inflation and by this time next year we will be sinking in hyper-inflation and the dollar will be destroyed just like the German Deustche Mark

    1. G Dog says:

      Massive inflation?

      On what planet?

      Do you even know what inflation is???

      1. Mark says:

        It’s when your money is worth less that is was yesterday. Ever wonder what in the world QE2 was? Ever wonder why gold is $1900 instead of $300? Ever notice that consumer goods are decreasing in quality and quantity (food) but remaining the same price? All we have seen is just the tip of the iceberg. The banks are holding onto most of the cash from QE2. As they start to inject it into the economy we will get serious stagflation with no cure in sight.

        1. Benny B says:

          Any bets on whether “g dog” understands your explanation? My money is on NO.

        2. what!?! says:

          Very wells said Mark! Its the revolving door of greed and the majority of the folks in this country is stuck in it. Greed never goes away , it only changes form from time to time.. Remember the whole dot com era.. then housing.. no precious metals.. And who is always left in the gutter after the smoke clears…

  2. END THE FED! says:

    YES! YES! YES! (sigh of relief) Finally, someone who gets it! I finally quit posting on stories like these, ’cause every comment was ridiculously ignorant and the majority of people still don’t have a freaking clue as to what is really going on. However, you do, my friend. Finally seeing a comment like this from someone else has briefly restored my faith in humanity for today.

  3. End the Banksters says:

    If you want to know what’s going on, you got to find out What Really Happened.

  4. goodmonster says:

    Rumplestilsken…Spell check? The American public has been asleep for over 40 years and is now beginning to wake up. It will take some time but at least it is beginning. All I can say is…”I have gone to the Enemy’s camp and I took back what they stole from me”….

  5. kevin says:

    Hey Ben distroy your printing press. No more fresh greenbacks.

  6. You are not welcome in our state!!!!!! says:

    Where is this meeting at and how do I get to speak my voice to this disgraceful human being!?!?!?!

    1. Kieron says:

      You think he’s human? He’s a reptile.

  7. Mr. Potato Head comes to town says:

    http://ecomn.org/register/bernanke-invite.html I would pay $200 to destroy this guy verbally and let him know how people of this state REALLY feel about him. Shame on these wealthy people for supporting such tyranny!

  8. Redneck Purist says:

    I’d like to thank him and his inept boss for stimulating inflation and deflating the economy with his printing press.

  9. Dear Ben, says:

    Dotcom bubble, housing bubble, stock market bubble, dollar bubble, debt bubble, gold bubble. Ben loves bubbles. Thanks Ben for making us hide on the sidelines with our investments. Thanks for giving me that generous half percent interest on my savings. Thanks for making bonds and treasuries worthless for those that depend on them. Thanks for paying the banks to hoard cash. Thanks for the end of the world as we know it. Thanks Ben. The world thanks you Ben.

    1. jan says:

      Finally, someone who gets it. Congratulations. I am retired and live on itreasury bond interest and guess what? My income is less than half of what it was ten years ago because of the low interest rates so I don’t buy cars and stuff I don’t need. Thanks, Ben for nothing!

      1. Dear Jan, says:

        Do you have someone holding those for you? Do you take care of it on your own? If you take care of it on your own, you’re very safe and need to stay put thru 2012 with those. When Ben announces an interest rate change or if you hear a hint of the interest rate moving UP—you’ll need to go to your bank and talk to someone there (for free) to see what your options will be. If you need to cash out at that point, or move to shorter term treasuries– so be it. There aren’t a lot of safe havens but a money market account (not a money market fund) may be better than those treasury bonds when interest rates do rise. Just keep your eyes on the interest rate after this round of interest rate stalemate ceases.

  10. Me says:

    It’s pessimistic people like all of you that are the true downfall of this economic situation we are in. Perhaps people don’t realize that Bernanke has not been the Fed chairman for the past 40+ years. The Fed is doing all that it can to support our frail economy. Recovery takes time and people need to start having a little faith instead of sitting in front of their computers pointing fingers.

    1. What? says:

      It’s ignorant, uninformed, barefoot and broke idiots like you that just don’t get it and never will. All the information is there for your reading pleasure so until you have an ounce of information—shut it and be among the sheep!

      1. Jim says:

        You don’t know anything about the poster you’re responding to, yet you insult him for a difference of opinion. That’s ignorant.

        1. What? says:

          Nope Jim. There are plenty of opportunities on CCO to discuss shedding pounds after the fair, whining about the post office, saving a dog—this page is left for the facts and unblinded. “Pessimistic” and “faith” and “pointing fingers” is a little touchy feely for the topic. If you don’t think so, you may want to go and discuss how to shed those pounds after your cheese curd binge.

          1. Jim says:

            This post is complete nonsense. Enjoying yourself?

            1. What? says:

              Hit tha back button Jim. You appear to be delusional and your on the wrong page. This is not a “political” matter. This is not a “debt” matter. You need to do some research and find a way to understand on your own so to not further embarrass yourself.

              1. Jim says:

                Wow. Did either of my posts to you use the words “political” or “debt?” Are you sure you’re responding to the right person here? This might be the most immature “debate” I’ve ever been involved in.

                My problem with you is not what little substance you’ve posted. I tend to agree that the Fed has done a terrible job. My problem is your ignorant insults and petty name-calling. You’re not convincing anyone with that lame tactic.

              2. Jim says:

                Are you even responding to the right person here? Where did I use the words you quoted in a post about this story?

                “…so to not further embarrass yourself.” = irony

                1. What? says:

                  I’m reading all your posts Jim, you can’t find the back button? Top of your screen on the left. I don’t wish to go back and forth with you anymore. So please don’t respond. I said Please.

                2. Jim says:

                  If you don’t wish to “go back and forth” then stop posting garbage on anonymous message boards. Internet tough guys like you who like to insult anonymous posters are the people who ruin boards like this.

  11. Mark says:

    Wow, really Ben? Is that what being buried in debt is called now? Being cautious? Precisely what should I do now? Between student loans, car loans and higher medical bills what am I supposed to do? Sell my kidney?

    1. Ha! says:

      I’m pretty sure his message, if decoded, just announced “Damn the old people and babyboomers and—-GET OUT THERE AND SPEND THE MONEY YOU DON’T HAVE, DARN IT!” So, nope–he doens’t want you to sell your kidney, that’s too permanent. He wants you refi your car loan, consolidate your student loan debt so that it can become a participant in the “student loan bubble” and then he wants you to go buy some ice cream and remain ignorant to the fact that the dollar cone you’re enjoying will be $10 in 2-3 years.

    2. Jim says:

      Sounds like you’ve made some bad financial decisions. How is that the fault of the Federal Reserve?

      1. What? says:

        cheese curds, Jim….cheese curds.

        1. Jim says:

          Another substance-free post. Congratulations.

      2. Mark says:

        Lol, yes, it was a bad financial decision to get educated so I could get a job that makes decent wages. It was also a bad decision to buy a car to get to that job. Now I make decent money, but after all the bills, it isn’t like I’m sitting on $3k a month, I’m just paying off my debt slowly, in another 6-10 years I’ll be doing fine except for the fact that my pay goes up slower than my expenses every year.

        1. Jim says:

          I just don’t get how all of that is the federal government’s fault. You’re asking the feds what you should do to get out of the debt you acquired. Am I missing something?

          The fact is, the kind of unsustainable debt you describe is what drove our economy prior to this recession. People spent and spent beyond their means, and unless we start to do so again, I think the economy as we knew it is no more. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. As you know, being in debt is not good. But maybe Ben doesn’t get that.

          1. Mark says:

            When did I blame the Fed? I just said it’s dumb he can’t understand why we stopped spending. I am not going overboard on debt, I took out what I had to and now I pay it off, meaning I can just throw cash around and “stimulate” the economy. I guess I could be debt free living in a box and working at McDonalds…

            If the economy we knew dies. It will not be good, not for anyone who isn’t independently wealthy, not for a long time.

  12. DWS says:

    Mr. Bernanke seems like he is puzzled by alot of things, and I think he is at fault.

    He is letting the current occupant of the Whitehouse pull his strings.

    Come on “Big Ben” grow a pair and stand up to those you know are wrong. You know what has to be done so DO IT!

    1. Mark says:

      Precisely what is there to do?

      A. Increase interest rates
      B. Print more money

      Neither addresses what’s really going on. We are hitting limits on available resources internationally. We have hit peak oil. Automation and outsourcing have permanently eliminated many jobs. The US has been living off of debt both as a country and as individuals, debt we accrued because the rest of the world wanted to work but needed a consumer for their goods.

      The world is like a fire running out of oxygen. The current paradigm is dying. What comes next is up to us to decide. It could be very good or very bad.

      1. What? says:

        Agreed. If we print more money—the already doomed inflation will multiply. The multiplier effects in wait are going to be insane due to the failure of the needed result. To increase interest rates would be damaging to the Fed. debt itself since we have to refi it every couple of months as it is to pay the interest–if interest rates go up, those payments go up. All we can do is keep interest rates low, pay off our debt holders with inlfated (devalued) dollars at a low rate. Not a good deal for them. Wonder how long that can last?

  13. Thomas says:

    A perfect example of a very rich person being so clueless as to not understand why those of up living paycheck to paycheck aren’t spending any money. The blunders of the last handfull of administrations has caught up to us, ripping our discretionary spending ability right out of our hands, and this guy can’t understand why?

  14. I'm Just Sayin' says:

    Ben, Were you serious when you were pondering why people are not spending? It is a matter of trust. If you do not understand that, well then you need to go back to school for a basic psychology degree too. If people trust things are managed well and going to get better, they will spend and risk debt. Of course if they do not trust that they will be able to pay things back, well then they do not spend and pay for what they already bought. Are you really that out of touch?

  15. G Dog says:

    It is truly amazing how many posters demonstrate a fundamental lack of economic knowledge. Ever take Econ 101? If you are just repeating what Bill OReilly or Michele Bachman said last night, then at least admit that you are one of the sheep baaing in the meadow.

    Here’s your homework. Define:
    Consumer Price Index
    Money Supply
    Federal Reserve System
    Prime Rate

    It is obvious that many DO understand basic economic policies and concepts. The rest of you are really embarrassing yourselves each time you post.

    1. What? says:

      I’m pretty sure those are the things you may want to look into. I have read enough about it to have a kind of fear that a human shouldn’t know. And when you’re reading about those things, concentrate on how the Fed manipulates the data—no need to make it political—it’s not a political issue that MSNBC/FOX has anything to do with. Talking head cheerleaders on the financial networks, like Bloomberg, maybe. Just read about the facts and the flat out bad economics being thrust upon our economy. We have some problems, some very BIG problems.

    2. Me says:

      Thank you, G Dog. It seems a lot of people commenting here (read: What?) don’t have a clue about monetary policy.

      And for those that are only here to bash others with opposing view points (read: What?), it would be nice if you could bring something intelligent to the table at least…..

      1. What? says:

        If you don’t agree with what I’m saying, even a little, it’s back to the books for you. If you aren’t concerned and have “faith” in the current monetary policy, you may want to get yourself informed. Then again, the more dumb people out there—well, to the victors go the spoils. There’s a lot of learning to do.

        1. Charlie says:

          Give it a break already… so smug… we do not care… so save it, please!

  16. leroy says:

    All I know is that I was told to save money. I did, then I found out the fed was printing money like crazy and Washington was loaning it like crazy and my dollar saved is worth a lot less.

    I was told to start a 401K, but due to all the bubbles, I would have been better off to put it under my mattress.

    I was told to buy a house, put my money in property. Then Fannie, Freddie and the government supported a housing bubble, I lost money there.

    Why is the government doing this to me? I am a responsible person. I pay my bills, I didn’t default, but I am being hit in the rear.

    Can someone tell me who is watching out for the responsible people?

    1. Reality sucks says:

      QE1, 2 and maybe 3 are not a good thing, propping up our economy. We need to educate ourselves on what QE actually is, how it’s implemented, and what the effects were meant to be in comparison to what the effects have actually been and the risks the Fed took in making the decision. We need to understand what the Fed is doing when they pay banks interest on the hoard they are required to carry to stall inflationary dollars from hitting the market (as Mark states above). We need to understand how and why inflation happens as a result of monetary policy, ie: printing cash like a madman and the multiplier effect of that printing. We need to understand why the interest rate is being held at such a low rate to benefit the Fed and not the American (as What? states above). We need to understand why the Fed wants to deter us from saving and buying safe assets such as bonds by rewarding us to gamble in the stock market. We need to understand that our National Debt is impossible to pay off and why exactly, it’s impossible to pay off. We need to understand the fantastic odds of a U.S. default, in the grand scheme of the world economy, and why the dollar could/will become a devalued shadow of itself, yet remain 60% of the world’s currency. We need to ask ourselves, why doesn’t the Fed answer to anyone? Not even the President or Congress. We need to figure out why we allow the Fed to exist and pull the greatest sham of all.

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