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George W. Bush Didn’t Know Some Things

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Hardly news, yes. And hardly surprising that one of the things he didn’t know was what a TED spread is. But he overcame his natural hostility to those who do know such things, and elevated a genial, bearded, middle-aged man named Ben Bernanke to help.

Which he did, albeit not enough to earn his own portrait.

When he first picked Mr. Bernanke to serve as a member of the Fed’s Board of Governors in 2002, Mr. Bush noted his selection “wasn’t from the political class that was my strongest supporters, and that was professors.”

Mr. Bush said one of the most important qualities of presidential leadership is being able to “recognize what you don’t know” and take advice from experts….

Mr. Bush also acknowledged some of the exotic issues he found himself confronted by at the start of the financial crisis. He related a time when he was advised of dire messages emerging from the TED spread. For market participants, this metric tracks the difference between Treasury bills and the London interbank offering rate and is a gauge of market tumult and dislocation.

Mr. Bush laughed that he told this unnamed adviser “I don’t even know what the TED spread is!”

George W. Bush Hails Ben Bernanke—and Comes Clean on the TED Spread [WSJ Real Time Economics blog]
Live blog and video of Fed talk with Fisher, Williams and Bernanke [WSJ via MarketWatch]


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