Commentary

Ben Bernanke: The Early Years as Counterfeiter

Only now are we learning about the real Ben Bernanke. An early home movie has been found about his activities as a child. His tendency toward counterfeiting apparently was well established.

Then the New York Times published this special report on counterfeiting:

Making fake money remains a thriving enterprise in the United States, as it has been since before the Civil War.

A few counterfeit artists still engrave metal plates and search for soft paper that approximates the government’s proprietary blend. Others soak money in a chemical soup, rubbing off ink to create $100 bills out of fives.

But in more than two-thirds of all cases, criminals manipulate scanners, printers and toner ink to create money where once there was none.

So, too, it has been with Bernanke. After hiding in plain sight, as it were, creating trillions of dollars out of nothing and passing them off as real money, the police finally moved in. The initial charges were modest, but more are sure to come. Added the Times:

Until federal agents arrested him in an Atlanta suburb in November, he was what people in his criminal circle called “the printer” — a man suspected of pumping more than $1.1 million in fake $50 bills into the Southern economy.

Oh, wait. The actual criminal charged was Heath Kellogg, “whom the United States attorney’s office here described as a self-taught graphic artist, is in the latter category.” But precisely how do his activities differ from that of the Federal Reserve chairman? Other than being less harmful to the economy?

It may take time, but it is hard to imagine that we all will not ultimately pay the price for the trillions of dollars of nothingness issued by the Federal Reserve and passed off as money with something to back it up.

Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute.