Needed: Rooseveltian Resolve

Here is Ben Bernanke (in 1999):

Needed: Rooseveltian Resolve
Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected President of the United States in 1932 with the mandate to get the country out of the Depression. In the end, the most effective actions he took were the same that Japan needs to take—- namely, rehabilitation of the banking system and devaluation of the currency to promote monetary easing. But Roosevelt’s specific policy actions were, I think, less important than his willingness to be aggressive and to experiment—-in short, to do whatever was necessary to get the country moving again. Many of his policies did not work as intended, but in the end FDR deserves great credit for having the courage to abandon failed paradigms and to do what needed to be done. Japan is not in a Great Depression by any means, but its economy has operated below potential for nearly a decade. Nor is it by any means clear that recovery is imminent. Policy options exist that could greatly reduce these losses. Why isn’t more happening?

To this outsider, at least, Japanese monetary policy seems paralyzed, with a paralysis that is largely self-induced. Most striking is the apparent unwillingness of the monetary authorities to experiment, to try anything that isn’t absolutely guaranteed to work. Perhaps it’s time for some Rooseveltian resolve in Japan.


I got this quote from Bernanke’s 1999 paper “Japanese Monetary Policy: A Case of Self-Induced Paralysis?” – or rather David Bechworth has a great post on Bernanke’s paper and that got me reading. I knew the paper, but didn’t remember how powerful it actually was. Try replace “Japan” with “USA” in the paper and you will see a very strong Bernankian critique of Bernanke.

Thanks for David for alerting me and his many other readers to this great paper.

PS: As I finnish writing this I realised that Scott Sumner in fact wrote the same story (and I guess Marcus Nunes had alerted him to the Bernanke paper).

Leave a comment


  1. Benjamin Cole

     /  November 1, 2011

    Add on: John Taylor in 2006 gushed about the success of QE in Japan, when they tried it for a while. Now he says no to QE for the USA.

    Is it so simple that these guys are GOP’ers, and they do not want Obama to succeed?

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