A number of US financial blogs are reporting that Ben Bernanke faces a chance of failure to be confirmed by the American Senate for a second term in office.
What’s the big picture here?
On the short term political front, Scott Brown’s win in Massachussetts exemplifies the frustration felt by many with politics as usual. Whether it’s expressed as concern over deficits (and that’s a much more salient touch point with Indendent voters on health care than the rhetoric of the wingnuts), or just as disgust with the jobless recovery’s disjunction with business as usual on Wall Street, there’s no doubt that an election year is starting to focus minds on the politics of financial decision making.
… and that brings us to the bigger picture. The whole entrenchment of the reign of ‘the markets’ and the institutions which serve to reproduce financialised global capital (such as the US Federal Reserve) could not have taken place without the depoliticisation of discussion of decisions about its governance. In Australia, and in the UK, we saw the independence of central banks proclaimed as a touchstone of orthodoxy, while politics in the EU was and still is under the long shadow of first the Bundesbank, and lately the European Central Bank. This depoliticisation is a much more accurate signifier of what neo-liberalism actually is than any concern about the size of the state (which has often increased under right wing governments). In America, Alan Greenspan became something of a fetish for markets.
In the longer term, the fact that the personnel and the policies of the US Federal Reserve are now open to political challenge (at the same time as bankers become a political football in the UK) is undoubtedly the most central ideological and political result of the Global Financial Crisis.