July 27, 2009
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says he had to "hold his nose" over last year's taxpayer-financed bailouts of big financial companies. But he insists the action had to be taken to avoid a major meltdown of the U.S. financial system and the broader economy.
Bernanke's comments came during a town-hall style meeting in Kansas City, Mo. It's to be aired this week in three installments on PBS' "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer."
Bernanke was peppered with several questions about government decisions to rescue so-called "too-big-to-fail companies" like insurance giant American International Group. One small-business owner complained to Bernanke that such actions were "hard to swallow." He said small businesses that are also struggling to survive are being shortchanged.
In answer, Bernanke said nothing made him "more frustrated, more angry, than having to intervene" on behalf of companies that had been "taking wild bets," but he said he was determined not to be the Federal Reserve chairman who presided over the second Great Depression.