Chief Economist Stumped in Attempt to Clarify Monetary Functioning Under Biden

Documentary Exposes Economic Adviser's Missteps on Basic Concepts

by Zain ul Abedin
Chief Economist Stumped in Attempt to Clarify Monetary Functioning Under Biden
© Alex Wong/Getty Images

In a recent, unsettling moment captured during an interview for the upcoming documentary "Finding The Money," Jared Bernstein, the Chief Economist and Economic Policy Adviser to President Joe Biden, faced difficulty articulating the fundamentals of how money functions.

The preview of the documentary, which explores the intricate aspects of the economy, highlights the challenge of understanding monetary concepts - even for those entrenched in economic policymaking. The documentary's preview sparked interest by suggesting that even experts like Bernstein grapple with basic monetary questions.

During a particularly tense segment, Bernstein stumbled when asked how money is created and circulated, revealing a surprising gap in his explanations. Initially, Bernstein confidently stated, "The US government can't go bankrupt because we can print our own money." However, as the conversation deepened, his explanations became repetitive and less assured.

Pressed for clarity on how the government manages borrowing, Bernstein's responses grew increasingly vague: "The government definitely prints its own money. The government definitely prints money and lends that money," he reiterated.

Bernstein's Economic Confusion

Further complicating his explanation, he questioned his understanding aloud, "It then lends that money by selling bonds. Is that what they do?" After a pause, he seemed to reassure himself as much as the interviewer, "They sell bonds and then people buy the bonds and lend the money.

Yeah," he concluded, albeit hesitantly. Bernstein's struggle did not pass unnoticed, raising eyebrows about his grasp on economic principles fundamental to his role. Visibly frustrated, he admitted, "I don't get it. I don't know what they're talking about," a candid acknowledgement that left viewers questioning his expertise.

This incident comes at a time when economic issues are particularly pressing, with inflation, employment challenges, and high living costs dominating public discourse. Despite positive trends in employment figures, inflation and rising interest rates continue to pose significant challenges, particularly affecting prospective homeowners.

Bernstein's moment of confusion not only highlights a personal lapse but also underscores a broader uncertainty that pervades public understanding of economic policies - a crucial issue as the nation grapples with complex financial dilemmas.