First Jim Cramer said that Ben Bernanke was the greatest Federal Reserve chairman ever. Now Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric (GE) and, by the measure of many, one of the great CEOs of the last 50 years, tells CNBC that "I think he saved the system, I think he's a national hero. I think Bernanke seems to be a guy operating on a clear intellectual framework. This guy's done a hell of a good job."
The coronation may be premature. The credit crisis seems to be over, but the International Monetary Fund says that it still expects hundreds of billions more dollars in bank write-offs, which could cripple the credit system again.Rising interest rates, due primarily to Treasury borrowing to cover the deficit, and high unemployment could cause a "double-dip" recession. If the Fed mismanages interest rates during the recovery, a number of economist believe that the U.S. could hit a period of hyper-inflation, not unlike the one that followed the recession in the early 1970s.
The economy could still get worse next year, and there is a modest chance it could get much worse.
What will Welch and Cramer say about Bernanke then?
Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.