The financial elite---as symbolized by those in attendance at that farewell address---already have thanked Bernanke, and gave him a standing ovation to boot, which means that the aforementioned "third-party" that Ratner chose to import, but not to explicitly identify, means everyone else---which means the ignorant masses. What point did Ratner hope to make by including this little aristocratic anecdote? Did he offer it as "symbolism," or as proof of his argument? In other words, was his actual intention here to say that the rest of the country should thank Bernanke because the financial elite did? Does Ratner believe that the rest of the country lacks the divine mixture of enlightened knowledge and unimpeachable class embodied by those financial elite, such that we are unable to recognize Bernanke's credentials on our own accord and respond in kind? Yes! If he didn't, why go through the trouble of telling us? He thinks we're too dumb, or too rude, or both, to understand and exhibit the reverence that Bernanke deserves for...what exactly?
Mr. Ratner, we are not like you; Bernanke doesn't come to us, and we're prohibited from going to him---so how exactly do you propose that we thank him? If you have his phone number, and would be so kind as to share it with the rest of us, I'm sure many people would love to give him a call and have a chat. Obviously, that won't happen, but even if it were possible to thank Bernanke, why should we? Was it our system that he saved? Were we responsible for the state of affairs that needed saving? No---it was the financial elite who caused the mess, and who most needed Bernanke's help. To be sure, the entire country would've felt the pain if events had unfolded as the financial elite warned they may---without action---as the crisis began to unfold; but that hasn't changed---they didn't see the crisis coming, they only saw the future in regard to the possible effects of the crisis---they never saw the crisis itself.
Ratner praises Bernanke as a man with a "first-rate mind...matched by a first-rate temperament," and attributes his "success" to a "non-ideological approach that allowed him to take on each fresh challenge unshackled to a particular dogma." You should notice that this sentence is a truism---"unshackled to a particular dogma" is synonymous with "non-ideological"---Ratner uses synonyms to create a semantic impression---as he did with his opening, "Bernanke should be thanked," assertion and his conclusion, "Bernanke deserves a standing ovation"---to pretend as if he is actually saying something, and not simply repeating a naked assertion. But the deeper point here is that our financial system is inherently ideological; we have a fiat currency that is backed by nothing other than the monetary manipulations of the Fed and the Treasury, and promises pinned to the backs of future generations. What Ratner is actually identifying, but attempting to cover-up with the weasel words, "dogma" and "ideology," is the fact that Bernanke, and those like him, are "unshackled" by the law, the free market, and any semblance of democracy. They can do what they want, when they want.
In Ratner's own words: "(Bernanke, Paulson, and Geithner) first threw out the playbook from past crises as inadequate to the current challenge and then threw out the rule book, as they formulated innovation after innovation to fight the conflagration. Most notable were the 2008 rescue of the insurance giant A.I.G. and the alphabet soup of programs designed to pump liquidity into the frozen financial system." "Conflagration" is a perfect word, as it reveals Ratner's intention to paint Bernanke (and his colleagues) as heroic fire-fighters, who used unique, brave, and effective methods to tame the fire that was burning through the system. This cynical construct conveniently obfuscates the fact that the Fed, the Treasury, and the other governmental and semi-governmental actors and agencies that formed and ran this system, were the arsonists before they were the fire-fighters---if they put out any blaze, it was only the one that they started!
Ratner's article is around 20 paragraphs long---with nearly, if not exactly, the same number of sentences as paragraphs. He writes as if each sentence is so important that it deserves to be cordoned-off from the others---or maybe it's that he believes the reader is too dumb to fully appreciate his point without taking a mental break after each sentence? Either way, Ratner failed to make any objective case for any explicit claim---the article is more psychological than anything else, as it comes across as a whiny elitist crying about the lack of thanks that men like himself receive.
He offers the assertion, "(Bernanke) played a central role in averting a financial meltdown and lifting the nation out of recession," and then proceeds as if this is settled fact---wasting no time actually proving it. Almost every paragraph is a naked assertion, and mostly having to do with Bernanke's "temperament," or "approach," or "style," or his "first-rate mind," or his "outspokenness," or, things that he was completely wrong about, like his economic pronouncements in the years immediately prior to the crisis. The only time that Ratner actually used facts in support of his argument came in this sequence: (I combined some of the paragraph-sentences into a single paragraph---Does he get paid by the paragraph?)
"To counter the recession, Mr. Bernanke championed cutting interest rates to zero. But when even that proved insufficient, the Fed began its highly controversial program to buy Treasury and other debt as a means of lowering financing costs and stimulating growth. This program, known as quantitative easing, brought a chorus of criticism down on Mr. Bernanke, ironically, mostly from Republicans...And in a November 2010 letter in The Wall Street Journal, 24 well-known, conservatively inclined economists, financiers and academics decried the asset purchase program as risking 'currency debasement and inflation' while not promoting employment. Well, the group proved wrong on all counts. The program has succeeded in lowering interest rates without causing inflation — prices were up just 1.5 percent last year."
He finished this little "I-told-you-so sequence" by referencing (not quoting) an assertion made by the president of the San Francisco Fed: "unemployment may have been pushed down by a quarter of a percentage point — roughly 400,000 jobs — by just the second phase of quantitative easing." This is weasel wording at his height; Ratner cites the Fed as the source for an assertion about the success of the Fed's own actions---and even then, the best Ratner's biased source has to say is that maybe, just maybe, the second phase of quantitative easing pushed unemployment down by a whopping quarter of a percentage point---ha! That was an average month during the six years of job growth under the Bush Administration---without quantitative easing. And how does the Fed buy the Treasury's debt---is the Fed's money not American money, or is the Treasury's debt not American debt? If there is a complicated answer to this question, who, Mr. Ratner, should I thank for that being the case? Furthermore, I was under the impression that interest rates were determined by the Fed---but I value my sanity too much to even attempt to understand that system---how is it that the Fed succeeded in lowering rates? What alternative properly classifies this as a "success?"
As I pointed out earlier, those of us who Bernanke gives no farewell address to, and whose letters he will neither read nor hear of, have no way to thank the outgoing Fed-chair. So even if we held Bernanke in the proper esteem, and felt the proper gratitude that Ratner believes Bernanke deserves, he could still write this demeaning article about how this public-servant, who gave so much to us, received so little in return from the peons that his wisdom saved---pulling their financial system back from the edge of collapse. So why did he write it? Because the standing ovation was symbolic---not just of what Ratner believes Bernanke deserves---but what he believes every member of that class of financial elites deserves---most notably himself. But it's not our system Mr. Ratner, it's yours, and Bernanke's, and the few people who are like the two of you and get to exercise such great power over the rest of us. Do you go through the trouble of buying a plane ticket when you travel to Detroit, the city you "saved" with the auto-bailout, or do you just start flapping those angel-wings?
Here is the only thanks that the American people owe---it is the type of thanks that a host owes to its parasite: thank you for not taking too much, too quickly; thank you for not doing the only thing you are capable of---destroying us. What would Ratner have us believe? That we, the barbaric know-nothings, created this complex financial system in which the value of the dollar is pegged to...itself, in which a single entity can legitimately "buy" its own debt (or assets, or whatever else) apart from paying down that same debt? Thank you Mr. Bernanke, thank you Mr. Ratner, thank you so-so much for saving the greatest economic system in the history of the world from the virus that you and your predecessors pass around like hepatitis in a heroin den. Thank you for the fiscal insanity and crushing debt; thank you for destroying this country's productive capacity, and replacing it with a system of consumption---the existence of such a system is unsustainable. So don't fret Mr. Ratner, once the binge is over, we'll be sure to give you and Mr. Bernanke the thanks you undoubtedly deserve.