As a comedian Ben Bernanke makes a heck of a central banker.
Bernanke, in what was billed as one of his last public appearances as Federal Reserve chairman, sat for a Q-and-A session at the Brookings Institution on Thursday with "Lords of Finance" author Liaquat Ahamed.
Ahamed asked Bernanke how confident he had been, going into the Fed's bond-buying program, that the theory of quantitative easing would work.
"The problem with QE is it works in practice but it doesn't work in theory," Bernanke said to a round of laughter—rare for an audience of economists gathered to discuss monetary policy.
"I think of QE being a basic monetarist principle," he said, defending the program from economic theorists who said it would not work.
"I would disagree that these are completely novel ideas," he added.