Ben Bernanke Richly Rewarded for Speech at Abu Dhabi Conference

By:  William F. Jasper
Ben Bernanke Richly Rewarded for Speech at Abu Dhabi Conference

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke pulled down a tidy honorarium for a 40-minute talk to the Global Financial Markets Forum in Abu Dhabi on March 4. CNBC’s Squawk Box financial program reported on March 5 that he had been paid “at least $250,000” for his keynote speech.

The CNBC co-anchors Andrew Ross Sorkin, Becky Quick, and Joe Kernan then inanely bantered about Bernanke’s wardrobe and how much he deserved the financial reward, after all his years of  “toil” and “service” to the country and the economy. Here are excerpts: 

Joe Kernan: “Look, he did a lot of service to the country for a long time.”

Andrew Ross Sorkin: “I don't begrudge him for a second. This guy, for my money, can go get as much money as he wants and keep it all.”

Becky Quick: “He’s somebody who toiled and really worked under some difficult conditions for a long time.”

Joe Kernan: “He was under the impression that the entire global economy rested with his ability to print money. So that was the mind set that the Fed is still in at this point, that it’s all on them.”

And, regarding criticism of Bernanke’s multi-trillion-dollar “quantitative easing” (QE-1, 2, 3, and Infinity) policies: 

Becky Quick: “Although I will say, back in 2008, we needed it.”

Joe Kernan: “We needed it.”

Max Nisen, a reporter for Quartz, was similarly solicitous for poor, overworked, “underpaid” Ben, writing: 

Anyone who knows how difficult a job Bernanke had or saw his marathon testimony sessions in front of congressional committees won’t begrudge him these paychecks. But the fact that it took him less than an hour to earn more than an entire year as arguably the single most powerful person in the global economy makes it pretty clear he was underpaid in the first place. 

A CBS MoneyWatch/Reuters report said of the Bernanke speech: 

"He will obviously be enjoying the fruits of the free market," said Jan Baran, a partner and head of the election law and government ethics group at Washington law firm Wiley Rein LLP. "He will personally experience supply and demand."

Lawyers and agents say Bernanke, 60, should be able to command around $250,000 per speech for a while to come....

"He's free to offer his own views either historical or forward-looking," said Baran, when asked about the ethics of Bernanke cashing in on his eight years as Fed chairman. "Nothing sounds illegal or unethical and in fact it sounds fairly routine."

Click here to read the entire article.

Photo of Ben Bernanke: AP Images

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