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Bernanke Thinks More Execs Should Have Been Investigated

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says more corporate executives should have been investigated for their actions leading to the 2008 financial meltdown.

"There are a few people who have gone to jail for various reasons but it would have been my preference to have more investigation of individual actions, because obviously everything that went wrong or was illegal was done by some individual, not by an abstract firm," Bernanke told USA Today in an interview published on Sunday.

"In that respect, I think there should have been more accountability on the individual level."

Image: New Ben Bernanke book
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's new book on the financial crisis comes out this week. J. David Ake / AP

Bernanke has been making the rounds promoting his new book, “The Courage to Act: A Memoir of a Crisis and Its Aftermath,” which comes out this week. The memoir recounts his role as Fed chairman during and after the financial crisis. Bernanke left the Fed in early 2014.

In his interview with USA Today, Bernanke also defended the federal government’s bailout of troubled insurance giant AIG. “I think there was a reasonably good chance that... barring stabilization in the financial system, that we could have gone into a 1930s-style depression,” he said.

As for what he wished he could do over, Bernanke said Fed officials could have been better communicators with the public during the crisis.

"We were so focused on trying to fix the problem, stabilize the system, that sometimes we didn’t have the time or the energy to really explain to the public to the extent we should have perhaps exactly what we were doing, why we were doing it, why it was essential to the health of the economy,” he said.

Cramer: Yellen's Fed vs. Bernanke's 0:39

On Monday, in an interview with CNBC, the former Fed chairman said he sees no reason why central bank policymakers should rush to increase interest rates given that inflation is so low and full employment is only starting to emerge.