Home Depot Co-Founder Langone: Bernanke Is 'the Ultimate Lame Duck'

Wednesday, 19 Jun 2013 01:26 PM

By Dan Weil

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Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's words no longer carry the same weight as they did previously now that he is apparently on his way out, says billionaire investor Kenneth Langone.

Bernanke has given subtle hints that he's not interested in keeping his job after his second four-year term ends Jan. 31.

And in an interview with Charlie Rose that aired Monday on PBS, President Obama indicated he's not eager to re-appoint Bernanke in any case.

Editor's Note:
Economist Unapologetically Calls Out Bernanke, Obama for Mishandling Economy. See What They Did

"To me, Bernanke is the ultimate lame duck right now," Langone, who helped found Home Depot, told CNBC. "I mean whatever he says is temporary."

Financial markets eagerly await the end of the Fed's policy meeting Wednesday to see if it signals when it will begin tapering its quantitative easing.

Martin Feldstein, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Reagan, agrees with Langone.

But the Fed chairman can still pack a punch, Feldstein suggested to CNBC. Given Bernanke's probable departure, he is "going to want to start the tapering before he leaves, so he can say, 'I did all these good things and I put us on an exit path,'" Feldstein said.

"The president more or less said, ... 'Your time is up Mr. Bernanke,'" Feldstein noted. "I didn't think that was a nice gesture on the president's part."

Langone agreed, noting that the Fed chairman was "worthy of better treatment than what he's getting right now."

In any case, Fed policy is unlikely to shift much if Bernanke indeed leaves, says Jan Hatzius, chief economist at Goldman Sachs.

"I don't think you're going to see a major change in the approach, whoever is the next Fed chairman," he told Bloomberg. "The uncertainty is probably more limited than in past episodes."

Editor's Note: Economist Unapologetically Calls Out Bernanke, Obama for Mishandling Economy. See What They Did

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