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Board chairman Ben Bernanke testifies before the House Financial Services Committee during his semi-annual report to Congress in Washington February 24, 2010. (Richard Clement/Reuters)
Board chairman Ben Bernanke testifies before the House Financial Services Committee during his semi-annual report to Congress in Washington February 24, 2010. (Richard Clement/Reuters)

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Bernanke: upbeat/downbeat/neither Add to ...

Ryan Chittum of Columbia Journalism Review, pointed out in a blog post that no one seems able to agree on Fed chairman Ben Bernanke's mood, following his speech on the U.S. economy earlier this week. In that speech, Mr. Bernanke acknowledged that the U.S. economy had hit a soft patch, but was likely to pick up again in the second half of the year.

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So, is the Fed chairman feeling dour (first half of the year economic growth not looking so good) or upbeat (second half improving)? By Mr. Chittum's reckoning, U.S. newspapers are confused, giving very different interpretations in headlines this week:



The Wall Street Journal believes that Mr. Bernanke is feeling gloomy: "Fed Sees Recovery Lagging: Bernanke Says Growth Slower Than Expected, Monetary Policy Isn't 'Panacea'"

The Washington Post believes that he is optimistic: "Bernanke: Economy can withstand recent setbacks"

Bloomberg sees a dour chairman, and believes more stimulus is needed: "Bernanke Says Slow Recovery Needs Sustained Record Stimulus"

But the Financial Times sees no stimulus coming: "Bernanke signals no new round of easing"

As Mr. Chittum points out, the confusion arises even though Mr. Bernanke tends to express his thoughts and Fed policies far more clearly than his predecessor, Alan Greenspan.

"When Alan Greenspan was Fed chairman, the press used to talk about his oracular pronouncements," he said. "While Bernanke is less apt to talk that mumbo jumbo, this coverage shows that the press can still interpret the same news differently."

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