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Bugs Bernanke: Eh…What’s Up, Doc?

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“Eh…what’s up, Doc?” was perhaps one of the most famous cartoon lines in history.  In most instances while boldly munching his carrot, Bugs Bunny delivered those memorable words. 

Sometimes, he asked the infamous question when he was in danger.  Other times, Bugs conveyed the familiar quote when he was victorious, and occasionally he would pronounce the well-known query when there was a lull in the action. 

The animators always seemed to know the perfect moment for Bugs Bunny to ask his notorious question. 

That’s why it’s so darn funny that the Federal Reserve was featured in a recent Wall Street Journal article by Jon Hilsenrath that paraphrases the legendary Bugs Bunny line.  For several years, Hilsenrath has been the conduit by which Ben Bernanke telegraphs his intentions, issues his proclamations, and vents his frustrations. 

Most recently, the Fed Chairman wondered how the economy can be regressing when a large number of people have been added to the payrolls, the unemployment rate has fallen from 10% to 8.3%, and the stock market is approaching all-time highs creating that ever wonderful “wealth effect.” 

However, in 2011, the economy expanded a paltry 1.7%. 

According to recent estimates, the growth rate for 2012 is also expected to be less then 2%. 

Yet, the Fed with its ZIRP (Zero Interest Rate Policy)  and freewheeling money creation believes that it has stemmed the tide of unemployment. 

Thus, both a growing and healthy economy should have been the byproduct. 

So, eh…what’s up, Doc?

The sad reality is that Ben Bernanke doesn’t know what else to say. 

People who are no longer looking for jobs are still unemployed, although they are not counted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

In addition, those who only work part-time are counted as employed even though their income has decreased significantly. 

Finally, no consideration has been given to high-paying manufacturing or professional jobs which have been replaced by lower-wage service jobs. 

And the folks at the Fed wonder why there is no economic growth?  Common sense Whether it’s the Federal Reserve or a cartoon character, fantasy should never be confused with reality. 

So the question should be asked back to them: “Eh…what’s up, Doc?” 

We know that Bugs Bunny had the answer; it’s too bad Ben Bernanke does not.  

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