Washington - Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, in a confidential talk with the commission probing the causes of the financial crisis, said he would defend to his “deathbed” his actions prior to the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.
“I will maintain to my deathbed, that we made every effort to save Lehman, but we were just unable to do so because of a lack of legal authority,” Bernanke said, referring to the 2008 failure that intensified a crisis that Bernanke said was the worst in history, according to an 89-page transcript of the interview by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.
The record of the session, made public yesterday, shows Bernanke using less-guarded language than his speeches and testimony as he answers questions from panel members. In accounts that are similar in substance to his public statements, he says Germany’s labor system is “less efficient” than the U.S.’s, talks about the “blogosphere” and tosses out a reference to the 1968 disaster-novel “Airport.”
Bernanke, 57, defended the Fed’s supervision of individual banks while saying the central bank was “to some extent, culpable” for not regulating subprime mortgages.
“The Fed didn’t do a perfect job, but -- and lots of things that we see now that can improve and are improving,” he said. “But I don’t think we were particularly culpable on the supervision part relative to the rest of the world.”
The FCIC initially said last week the Bernanke interview would be withheld and transferred to the National Archives, which would make it public in five years. The session was originally considered confidential, and the panel sought the Fed’s agreement to make it public, said Tucker Warren, a spokesman for the panel. The central bank agreed late Feb. 11 to its publication, Warren said.
Video - Bernanke: "We did not have the option of saving Lehman" - Mar. 15, 2009
See this story for the truth on Lehman's failure...