The scenario represents the challenge for the journalists appointed to interview Bernanke at the news conference he holds at 2:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday following the conclusion of the Fed Open Markets Committee meeting.
Though the setting will be considerably more formal than a shrink's office, the opportunity is similar: a chance to get inside the head of the man at the switch.
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Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak in New York, has a few dozen questions he said he'd like to ask the chairman. Wilkinson said he'd leave the easy questions to others, such as when the Fed might begin the tapering process of its $85-billion-a-month bond-buying program.
Instead, he would try to be more probing.
A few examples:
- If you could you grade the economy right now, what letter grade would you give it?
- What makes you feel good about things—in general?
- Do you care what people think about you?
- Do you ever engage in so-called Fedspeak like Alan Greenspan just because you don't really have a good answer?
- What about your job: Do you ever worry about losing your job?
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Good questions, all of them.
But if you had the chance, what would you really ask?
_ By CNBC's Jeff Cox. Follow him @JeffCoxCNBCcom on Twitter.