Tweet Congressional Show and Tell
"Now, I have to go back to work on my State of the Union speech, and I worked on it until pretty late last night. But I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I'm going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time; never. These allegations are false, and I need to go back to work for the American people. Thank you." Bill Clinton
"I did not tell Bank of America's management that the Federal Reserve would take action against the board or management if they decided to proceed with termination of the deal" Ben Bernanke
We know that Bill Clinton lied for reasons that had nothing to do with saving the economy and markets of this country and by extension the economy's and markets of the world. He lied to try and save his own ass.
Ben Bernanke most likely lied but for much grander and honorable reasons. I believe that in his mind a failure of Merrill Lynch, and the uncertainty and panic it would have created around its' massive base of individual investor accounts, would have directly undermined confidence in the financial system of the United States, and was an unacceptable occurrence. Even though B of A could have bought Merrill at a fire sale price after any type of filing, Ken Lewis was somehow "persuaded" to go through with the deal before that happened.
Bernanke testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday, saying that the Fed exerted no influence over the decision of Bank of America going through with the acquisition of Merrill Lynch. His testimony provided a forum for the congressmen to grandstand on whichever side of the story their beliefs fell out on, and it allowed Bernanke to reclaim some of the credibility that this story may have taken from him.
The event was a success for the congressmen, but Ben Bernanke to me sounded nervous and unsure. The arbiter of the testimony was the stock market, however, which rallied as he spoke.
The bigger picture issue at this point is whether the Obama plan to give the Fed increased powers in financial regulation will now be passed.