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The Secret Service agents watched me warily as I approached U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
I didn't waste any time. After introducing myself, I showed him a copy of the talk he gave at the American Economic Association (AEA) meetings in January 2007. I circled all the times he used the words "panic," "crisis," and "stress" in his speech, entitled "Central Banking and Bank Supervision of the United States."
A total of 36 occasions.
I asked him point-blank: "Did you know in advance that a financial crisis was headed our way?"
He looked nervous. I could tell he was uncomfortable with my question. He looked at me stoically and smiled.
And he refused to answer.
But there was no doubt in my mind what the correct answer was. I think he was worried about his job if he said, "Yes."