Bernanke: Risk of More Credit Problems 'Exceptionally Low'

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke defended his institutions handling of the recent financial crisis Wednesday, characterizing the risk for further troubles in the credit market as "exceptionally low."

Bernanke said in a Wednesday speech at the National Press Club that there was minimal risk to the credit market or from inflation as a result of the Federal Reserve's recent endeavors.

"The credit risk associated with our nontraditional policies is exceptionally low," Bernanke maintained, "and by carefully monitoring our balance sheet and developing tools to drain bank reserves as needed, we will ensure that policy accommodation can be reversed at the appropriate time to avoid risks of future inflation."

Bernanke explained that so-called "liquidity swaps," arrangements between 14 central banks to provide access to sufficient amounts of cash, are backed by those banks and not business receiving bailouts, and have a low risk of not being repaid.

"The failures of those companies would have posed enormous risks to the stability of our financial system and economy," Bernanke told listeners in his speech, which focused on the Fed's extraordinary intervention to shore up banks and other U.S. firms. "We believed that the best of the bad options available was to work with the Treasury to take the actions we did to avoid those collapses."

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