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Thinking About Performance(s)

by Fred Cederholm
The Obama/Treasury/FED policies are just not working – they can’t... because you don’t fix a problem of overwhelming debt by issuing more of the same. THAT is the FED’s approach because THAT is the only weapon in its arsenal.
I’ve been thinking about performance(s). Actually I’ve been thinking about the unfolding recession/depression, Bernanke on 60 Minutes, the Great OZ, quantity vs. quality, cheerleading, AIG, and the buck. Last week unfolded pretty much as I predicted in my column on juggling. The financial/ economic news items were all negative, but not horrific; the talking heads were neutral, but not euphoric; and the markets responded positively, but not justifiably optimistic. The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart took CNBC’s Jim Cramer to task for not sounding the alarm about any coming economic pandemic. This bitingly comic roasting could have been aimed at any of the media’s financial pundits, or Bush/ Obama Administrations’ talking heads for that matter.

You see the American sheeple are once again being had. The lame attempts to cover up bad economic policies which rewarded all the wrong behaviors for the inside cults of business and Wall Street have come home to roost in earnest. Fixing/replacing one bubble with a bigger (more lethal) one worked at least eight (or maybe nine) times since WWII. True they were “recessions” (or “coolings” of the economy), but the arrogance and Madison Avenue packaging of the monetary and Fiscal policy of the US Treasury acting thru the FED were spun and marketed like some laws of nature. The manifest destiny of a coming bigger/more prosperous US/us always loomed on the horizon in the message despite any future setback(s) from the underlying debt driven realities!

The Chairman of the US Federal Reserve Bank is perhaps second to only the President as THE most powerful person on the planet. There is the aura of aloofness and majesty that comes with the mystery of his office. This has been carefully engineered for almost 100 years. Ultra dignity and awe is compounded by the “edifice complex” of the FED’s stately and foreboding headquarters’ presence on the Mall in the Nation’s Capitol. This is the illusion of the Great OZ himself (please ignore any mere mortal personage behind the curtain). Like the Great OZ himself, appearances by the Chairman have been carefully and selectively orchestrated over the decades. Any musings, rumblings, and senselessly cryptic sound bytes made little if any common sense, but they did not have to. They were from THE CHAIRMAN. Intimidation from trappings of his office soon put to rest any criticism. I mean... to question policies and methodology borders on heresy. That is... until the unraveling of the perfect storms in 2007 and 2008 pulled back the curtain at OZland!

Sunday’s appearance by Chairman Bernanke on the CBS 60 Minutes Newsmagazine shouts volumes about how far we have come (and how fast we are descending). Such an outing beyond the throne room of the Great OZ with all its trappings of smoke, lights, and mirrors would NEVER have been contemplated by Bernanke’s predecessors. The Obama/Treasury/FED policies are just not working – they can’t... because you don’t fix a problem of overwhelming debt by issuing more of the same. THAT is the FED’s approach because THAT is the only weapon in its arsenal. Reality is not based in truth; it is based on perception. Uncle $ugar will fix the current catastrophic dilemmas if for no other reasons than our government is literally throwing TRILLIONS at the problem.

Where the money is being spent is not the issue! It is the sheer size of the numbers bantered about which will (with sufficient and well-orchestrated media wrappings) put the public at ease. The current recession/ depression will only cease to exist when the public believes it is over - not before! THAT requires on the camera performances of a lifetime by Bernanke and Obama. Bernanke gave one superb performance. He looked the part. He made love to the camera. And, he NEVER blinked.

Questions to Bernanke were dead on; but these were politely lobbed over home plate. Just WHAT did we really learn? Gentle Ben is aghast by AIG and the four (or is it now 5?) MEGA BILLION bailouts of the global insurance giant - who will STILL pay some $165 MILLION in bonuses this week to its ‘perpe-traitors.” He noted: the FED’s primary objective is to stabilize prices. Since the FED took over issuing our money, the buck has lost 94% of its purchasing power! Some performance, Ben!?!?

I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.

Copyright 2008 Questions, Inc. All rights reserved. Fred Cederholm is a CPA/CFE, a forensic accountant, and writer. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois (B.A., M.A. and M.A.S.). He can be reached at

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This story was published on March 16, 2009.