Ben Bernanke at FOMC on November 2011

Chairman Bernanke at Press Conference of the Federal Open Market Committee, on November 2, 2011.

“Politics is politics, and the Federal Reserve tries to stay nonpartisan and out of those debates. I mean, our job is to do the best we can for the U.S. economy, to do what we can to promote our mandate of maximum employment and price stability, and although we must be accountable to the Congress over the longer term, in the short term, it’s very important that the Fed be free from political pressures. And therefore, we are going to make our decisions based on what’s good for the economy, and we’re not going to take any politics into account.”

“With respect to inequality, I think the best way to address inequality is to create jobs. It gives people opportunities. It gives people a chance to earn income, gain experience, and to ultimately earn more. But that’s an indirect approach; that’s really the only way the Fed can address inequality per se.”

“My best advice to Americans is to continue to live your lives, though, and to continue to think about your personal situation and try to make smart decisions based on your own financial position. Clearly, Americans are trying to improve their balance sheets; they’re trying to pay down debt. That’s, of course, important. At the same time, you want to make smart decisions,you want to make good investments, you want to budget properly. So financial literacy is a big part of this, and lack of financial literacy was one of the things that got us into this mess in the first place. So I would advise people to try to be smart about their finances. Unfortunately, we can’t disassociate ourselves from Europe; the things that are happening there do affect us, and that’s an unfortunate fact. I hope very much that the Europeans will find a set of solutions that will allow markets to calm down and take off some of the headwinds from the U.S. economy.”

Full Press conference

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