Analyst view: Wall Street gives Bernanke A- for performance

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April 28, 2011 9:56 AM EST

Wall Street graded Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's first post-meeting news conference an A-, praising him for poise and transparency but noting that financial journalists didn't make him sweat.

The A- is based on the median of grades in the COMMENTS section below.

COMMENTS:

MOHAMED EL-ERIAN, CO-CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER AT PACIFIC INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT CO.

"He provided a good and informative context for the FOMC's economic projections, thinking and policy stance. He dealt skillfully with difficult questions, albeit somewhat tentatively at a couple of times and by eluding some issues rather than addressing them directly."

"After what seemed as a tentative start, he gained momentum and hit his stride very well and effectively. He addressed a good mix of questions, combining economic and policy issues as well as domestic and international ones. By the time he got to the last questions, he came across as extremely comfortable, confident and in full command of the facts."

JANE CARON, CHIEF ECONOMIC STRATEGIST, DWIGHT ASSET MANAGEMENT, BURLINGTON, VERMONT

"I would say that his inaugural press briefing was a well-attended event but not very enlightening.

"It was more a confirmation of things I was thinking about. For example, QE3 was highly unlikely ... he said any further efforts to stimulate the economy or push down unemployment would have negative consequences. So QE3 is off the table."

"My impression, in general, is that he is in no hurry whatsoever to tighten but he did lay out risks that would lead him to do that any time."

It was also notable that the Fed would continue reinvestment after QE2 ends, she said.

"He deserves an A. I was impressed by fact that the questions were so friendly. He wasn't really challenged."

JONATHAN LEWIS, PORTFOLIO MANAGER, SAMSON CAPITAL ADVISORS, NEW YORK

"If his goal was the be placid, poised and confident in a way that is reassuring to people, I think he achieved that. He spoke in a way you would expect someone that had been a professor and academic would speak."

"They communicated that the size of the portfolio would remain the same, they aren't taking away any liquidity, they are maintaining that liquidity. Although there isn't an additional round of buying, in order to maintain the portfolio at that size they will be doing other activities, which means some sort of purchasing of additional securities."

"He gave a very careful, nuanced press conference, I don't know that there's an obvious trade in this. But the dollar question got the most boilerplate response, in that regard I don't think it's a surprise that the dollar ended up weaker on the day."

JOHN SILVIA, CHIEF ECONOMIST, WELLS FARGO SECURITIES, CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA

"Letter grade: A-.

"It was very good in terms with dealing with a broad range of subjects. A lot of the issues were complicated and did very well trying to explain the subtleties of what could go on. I gave him an A- because he could have done a better job explaining long term unemployment. Most economists realize that unemployment is high due to structural issues rather than cyclical issues. A lot has to do with job training and education, not the economy. He should have been stronger talking about long term unemployment rate."

"The Fed has a dual mandate while the ECB only mandate is inflation, so it is hard to compare Trichet to Bernanke."

"Overall, there were no disasters. In terms of the reporters, there were some reasonable people there and it appears they did some screening as for who would be asking questions. Announcing their name and who they work for would have been nice."

BART MELEK, VICE PRESIDENT AND DIRECTOR OF COMMODITIES, RATES RESEARCH & STRATEGY, TD BANK FINANCIAL GROUP.

"Strong B or B+.

"I think he didn't want to be provocative and he wasn't. He conveyed his message quite well of the dual mandate. I'm not sure I buy into some of the statements, but the fact of the matter is he conveyed the message of an extension of the policy well. And at least for the time being, of being dovish. He didn't say anything particularly new. Precious metals took it that way with gold rallying to new records. There was a contingent out there that believed there might be a hawkish expression in the statement and we didn't see that and I think gold moved up on that."

PHILLIP STREIBLE, SENIOR MARKET STRATEGIST WITH LIND WALDOCK

"I'll give him a B based on his tie is straight and his hair looks good. In seriousness, I think he's doing alright, but he's not as in-depth with some of his answers as I would like. I think he skates around some topics. I wanted to find out exactly what they are going to do with the QE program. They really need stop rolling those bonds forward and to shrink the balance sheet. The problem is that no one wants the fiscal responsibility left on their shoulders."

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