Bernanke's legacy: A Fed that did too much?

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Bernanke: More help needed from fiscal policy

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke believes the central bank has been asked to do too much heavy lifting in getting the U.S. economy back up and running.

What perhaps will define his legacy, though, is whether the Fed did too much under his stewardship, going far beyond its central mandates and in doing so laying the groundwork for peril ahead.

In a high-profile promotional effort for his book, "The Courage to Act," Bernanke on Monday visited CNBC for a one-hour sitdown to explore how the Fed under his tutelage saved the financial system from certain disaster in 2008 and 2009, then used unprecedented expansive monetary policy to try to goose the subsequent recovery.

Focusing on the post-crisis measures, Bernanke, as he did on multiple occasions during his eight-year tenure, bemoaned the lack of coordinated fiscal policy to go with the ultra-easy monetary policy in place during his time at the helm.

"Clearly one of the issues is that we've have been relying too much on the Fed," he said. "The Fed is the only game in town. It has been doing much of the policy heavy lifting for the past few years. We need to see more action from other policymakers."

There can be little argument that the Fed has done some serious "heavy lifting."