Paul Krugman writes in his Monday column about the unraveling of the financial system. He adds half-column, half-paragraph, half-sentence: “before he [Bernanke] was given responsibility for saving the world, Ben Bernanke was one of our leading experts on the economics of the Great Depression.” As financial crisis extends and deepens, this description recurs, insistent and hipnotic. It acts in Bernanke’s defense, either to assert the correctness of his decisions, or to suggest that if he could do more he would.
We are invited to trust Bernanke as the expert. We need not understand or discuss the character of his expertise. We need only know that other experts (economists) regard him as the most competent to profess on the subject. We ought to trust him before a relationship of trust between us and him has been nurtured, informed, established. It is pre-emptive trust.