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Bernanke cracks wise: The best QE joke ever!

Thursday, 16 Jan 2014 | 11:50 AM ET
Bernanke joke takes swipe at critics
Thursday, 16 Jan 2014 | 11:35 AM ET
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke starts with a joke as he answers a question at the Brookings Institution on how confident he was as the Fed started its "quantitative easing" through large-scale purchases of financial assets.

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.

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