Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, is Time magazine's 2009 person of the year. I have been thinking about the significance of this cover. Here are my conclusions.
First, I think that this marks the high point of the public awareness of Bernanke's economic role in the U.S. and world economy. If I'm right about this there will be no more financial or economic crises that require the Fed's emergency intervention for the foreseeable future, i.e. for the next several years. This means that the March 2009 low is in all likelihood a once-in-a-generation low point for stock prices.
It also means that interest rates are about to return to more normal levels, levels which reflect expectations for average economic growth and growing employment in the U.S. and the world. In particular, the gap between short term rates and the 10 year note yield should start to shrink significantly and the yield curve should start to flatten a great deal.
Finally, since interest rates are likely to rise in the U.S. and since the Fed is likely to scale back its support for the securities markets, I think the U.S. dollar is likely to begin a long and extended bull market, one which will carry the dollar index to the 100 level. In this connection I would bring your attention to the background for the cover image of Bernanke you see above. It is an image of the U.S one dollar bill with Bernanke's picture in place of George Washington's.
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