If only Ben Bernanke would listen to himself—or at least the self that blasted Japan's government in the '90s for passively allowing the economy to wither, writes Paul Krugman. Back then, he urged Japan to "abandon its excessive caution" and accused economic officials of using flimsy technical excuses to avoid taking aggressive action. "With only a few changes in wording, the critique applies to the Fed today."
The situations aren't identical, and Bernanke has difficult politics to navigate, "but whatever the reasons, the fact is that the Fed—which is required by statute to promote 'maximum employment'—isn’t doing its job," writes Krugman in the New York Times. "Instead, like the rest of Washington, it’s inventing reasons to dither in the face of mass unemployment. And while the Fed sits there in its self-inflicted paralysis, millions of Americans are losing their jobs, their homes and their hopes for the future."