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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

U.S. Sen. Jim 'Beanball' Bunning Fires At Bernanke, Greenspan: In Cincinnati, Says Fed Chairs Are Overrated

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Kentucky's Republican Sen. Jim Bunning -- a former major league pitcher -- seems to think that Fed Chairs Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke are minor leaguers when it comes to setting U.S. economic policy. The Hall of Famer spent 17 years with the Phillies and Tigers. Now he's firing verbal fastballs at the central bankers and says he's worried about their handling of the economy. In a q-and-a with Cincinnati Gentlemen, a semi-monthly Ohio publication that's hitting newsstands this week, Bunning cut loose. He represents Kentucky, but lives in the Cincinnati metro area on the south side of the Ohio River. Bunning says Greenspan's Fed should have been more active in umpiring the mortgage lending industry -- it didn't see the move to steal homes. Here's Bunning:

"Obviously, Greenspan did a good job of convincing everyone (that) he knew more than anyone else. I have read different stories by people who worked at the Fed as either a board member or bank chairman when Greenspan was chairman, and they said they did dissent at the meetings, bit it didn't look that way. It looks like whatever Greenspan wanted Greenspan got -- particularly with the encouragement of ARMs on mortgages. I don't think the Greenspan Fed watched the store very well. The Fed had control of the banks or anyone else dealing with mortgages. If you ask 100 people -- maybe one out of a hundred would know that.

"I think Bernanke got handed a platter full of bad things and he's trying to work his way through it. Bernanke seems to be too academic rather than practical about the markets. I worry. When they testify, I really grill them on the knowledge of the markets."

Bunning, who went to Cincinnati's St. Xavier High School, voted against Greenspan's renomination for a final term as the nation's top central banker. He also voted against Bernanke's nomination as Greenspan's successor.

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