I regularly give Ben Bernanke a hard time for the excessively tight monetary policy he’s run at the Federal Reserve, and his most recent congressional testimony has been the chance for more of that. But in Bernanke’s defense I should say that the really striking thing about his appearance is the utter and total lack of influence of dovish monetary policy views on Capitol Hill.
If you read a lot of economics coverage on the Internet, you’ll be struck by the amazing success of “dovish” monetary policy views. I’ve been pushing them here at Slate, Ryan Avent pushes them at the Economist, Matt O’Brien pushes them at the Atlantic, Tim Fernholz and Miles Kimball push them at Quartz, Josh Barro and the Stevenson/Wolfers team push them at Bloomberg, Ramesh Ponnuru pushes them at National Review, Ezra Klein pushes them on Wonkblog, Paul Krugman and Tyler Cowen have both pushed them in the New York Times, etc. It’s not like an overwhelming consensus or anything, but normally a political stance with this much representation in the media could find at least one significant politician to stand up for it. But while we have Obama’s former Council of Economic Advisers chair and the chief economist at Goldman Sachs on our side, we seem to have zero members of Congress.
This is not an excuse for the Fed’s too-tight policies (they have their precious “independence” after all) but it’s probably a reason for it. If nobody in Congress objects to crucifying mankind upon a cross of 2 percent PCE rate targeting then realistically it seems unlikely to stop.