The Breakdown | Explaining Southern California's economy

Ron Paul v. Ben Bernanke: Is that a silver dollar in your pocket?

The most entertaining episode from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's testimony before the House Financial Services Committee this morning came — Surprise! — when Texas Republican and GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul launched into one of his patented long-winded spiels about the evils of the Fed, the senselessness of fiat currencies, and the value of "real" money: silver and gold.

Bernanke took it all in stride. The video above doesn't have reaction shots that are quite as good as this shorter broadcast from ABC, so check them both out. You have to hand it to Bernanke, he seems to enjoy the roastings he gets from Paul, in strange sort of way. And he fires back, ever so gently, at Paul's allegations that we're experiencing 9 percent inflation (according to older pricing measures) when the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says it's only around 4. (They've been here before.)

The best moment, however, comes a bit more than halfway through when Paul goes for his visual aid, an actual silver eagle dollar that he carries around in his pocket (All the time? Who knows. Probably). It's held and in fact expanded its value as silver so well that you can use it to buy more than twice as much gas today than it did when Paul got it in 2006! Except of course that it only has a nominal value of a dollar. The silver it's made of is worth about 35 bucks, however. So it's worth enough to buy about two dozen coffees at Starbucks, but on its face, not enough to buy one. 

On a lighter note, after Paul showed that he had a silver piece in his pocket, Bernanke did say he was glad to see the congressman. And he said they could get together talk about "parallel currencies" later. So...friends after all!

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