Ben Bernanke

There’s no denying that a collapse in stock prices today would pose serious macroeconomic challenges for the United States. Consumer spending would slow, and the U.S. economy would become less of a magnet for foreign investors. Economic growth, which in any case has recently been at unsustainable levels, would decline somewhat. History proves, however, that a smart central bank can protect the economy and the financial sector from the nastier side effects of a stock market collapse.

Weaker currencies abroad mean a strong dollar, and a stronger dollar, together with a weak global environment, is a drag on the U.S. economy. So it’s important, as it affects overall levels of production and employment in the U.S. There are many domestic industries doing well in the United States, notwithstanding a strong dollar.

The basic prescription for preventing deflation is therefore straightforward, at least in principle: Use monetary and fiscal policy as needed to support aggregate spending, in a manner as nearly consistent as possible with full utilization of economic resources and low and stable inflation. In other words, the best way to get out of trouble is not to get into it in the first place.

Over the years, the U.S. economy has shown a remarkable ability to absorb shocks of all kinds, to recover, and to continue to grow. Flexible and efficient markets for labor and capital, an entrepreneurial tradition, and a general willingness to tolerate and even embrace technological and economic change all contribute to this resiliency.

If current trends continue, the typical U.S. worker will be considerably more productive several decades from now. Thus, one might argue that letting future generations bear the burden of population aging is appropriate, as they will likely be richer than we are even taking that burden into account.

Given the central role of effective, firmwide risk management in maintaining strong financial institutions, it is clear that supervisors must redouble their efforts to help organizations improve their risk-management practices…We are also considering the need for additional or revised supervisory guidance regarding various aspects of risk management, including further emphasis on the need for an enterprise-wide perspective when assessing risk.