WASHINGTON – Embattled Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke’s position on the limited ability of the Fed to stimulate the nation’s sluggish economy was vigorously defended today by a homeless and badly undernourished former expert on monetary policy.
Arthur Peterson, a 58-year-old unemployed economist who is unable to remember the last meal he ate, said he agrees with Bernanke’s assessment and doubts that any attempt by the agency to bolster short-term economic growth would be sufficient to prevent him from starving to death by the end of this week.
“Besides continuing to hold interest rates near zero in the short term, it is difficult to imagine any new intervention by the Fed which could effectively forestall the systemic failure of my bodily functions resulting from my sustained lack of food intake,” the emaciated Mr. Peterson commented while grasping his midsection in what appeared to be excruciating agony.
Attempting to make himself heard over the loud growling noises emanating from his stomach, Mr. Peterson said he also concurred with Bernanke’s analysis that the U.S. economy is slowly recovering and the nation’s long-term prospects remain strong.
“Unlike my alimentary canal and esophageal sphincter,” Mr. Peterson added, “which are both irreversibly rupturing as we speak.”
As his mind fluctuated between consciousness and unconsciousness, Mr. Peterson also endorsed the Fed chairman’s optimistic view that the growth fundamentals of the United States do not appear to have been permanently altered by the various economic shocks over the past several years.
“As Chairman Bernanke has correctly pointed out, what we are facing is primarily…yow, excuse me… I just needed to apply some pressure on my throbbing epigastrium, sorry… what we are facing is a combined challenge of high unemployment and an unsustainable federal debt,” Mr. Peterson groaned.
“Allow me to draw a comparison, if I may,” he continued, doubling over as he spoke. “Imagine the nation’s economy as if it were my body in its current famished state. The flow of capital, like my blood circulation, is growing feeble. The employment sector, like my respiration, is shallow, slow and irregular. The gridlock in decision making by the government’s legislative branch is similar to the constipation in my vacant bowels caused by prolonged sustenance deprivation.”
“In looking at my physical and mental deterioration, you can basically see the embodiment of our current fiscal predicament,” Mr. Peterson explained. “Muscular action is no longer possible. The mind becomes dull, listless and even idiotic. Finally, hallucinations and dreams generally occur, in which scenes of plenty are often pictured.”
“Hence, the Tea Party,” Mr. Peterson concluded, before collapsing to the ground.
As for what interventions the Fed might conceivably take despite their limited impact, Mr. Peterson struggled to lift his head slightly and said that he expected the agency to commit to maintaining the size of its investment portfolio for a fixed period and perhaps buying bonds with more distant maturities to increase the downward pressure it is exerting on longer-term rates.
“I guess we’ll see what happens at the next meeting of the Fed’s policy-making board in late September,” Mr. Peterson gasped.
“Or, rather, I should say, you’ll see,” he corrected himself.