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Poll: Americans’ views of Fed turn more hostile

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Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke has tried to speak plainly to the people, but it apparently isn’t helping the central bank’s image.

A Dec. 4-7 Bloomberg News survey of 1,000 Americans found that 39% believe the Fed should be held more accountable to Congress and 16% want to abolish the central bank entirely. Just 37% favor maintaining the Fed’s status as an independent entity.

In a Bloomberg poll conducted Oct. 7-10, 35% of respondents wanted the Fed overhauled and 8% said it should be abolished.

Fed supporters say the central bank helped the U.S. avert depression by slashing short-term interest rates to zero two years ago and by providing massive loans to the financial system amid the worst of the credit crunch.

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But critics say Bernanke has gone too far with his latest plan to buy $600 billion of Treasury bonds by mid-2011, an attempt to keep longer-term interest rates suppressed. Opponents of the plan say the central bank will flood the world with more dollars, potentially stoking inflation.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has helped fuel a grassroots movement against the Fed with his book “End the Fed,” which calls for dismantling the central bank.

With the GOP takeover of the House, Paul now will be in a position to exercise more oversight of the Fed: He will chair the House Financial Services Committee’s subcommittee on domestic monetary policy, according to a statement Thursday from Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), the chairman-elect of the main committee.

-- Tom Petruno


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