Transcript: Diane Sawyer Sits Down with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke


DIANE SAWYER: The president said that the economy is strong and that it is-- the recovery is speeding up. Do you agree?

CHAIRMAN BERNANKE: Well, the recent news has been good. But I think we need to be cautious and make sure this is sustainable. And-- we haven't quite yet got to the point where we can be completely confident that we're on a track to full recovery.

DIANE SAWYER: You once used the phrase green shoots. Are they now what, stalks? Are they--


DIANE SAWYER: --viable trees?

CHAIRMAN BERNANKE: I-- I think they're still shoots. We're seeing some-- again some good-- good indicators. It's great to see some jobs being created. It's great to see unemployment come down the way it has recently. And there are a lot of other indicators in the labor market which are positive. But-- again we're still millions of jobs below where we were before the-- recession.

DIANE SAWYER: You worried that people are getting too optimistic?

CHAIRMAN BERNANKE: Well, optimism's a good thing. It-- makes people go out and-- you know, start businesses and spend and do whatever is necessary to get the economy going. But I think as policymakers we need to be-- cautious and-- and not-- not change policy too quickly.

DIANE SAWYER: You must know that some people have written you're Eeyore (UNINTEL) and that it's time to be a modified Tigger.

CHAIRMAN BERNANKE: Well-- you know, it's-- forecasting the economy is very tough. And we were somewhat too optimistic-- early in the recovery. And we were disappointed by the pace of recovery. I think we have to be realistic. I think we have to tell people what we see and we have to set our policies in a way consistent with that. But-- again I don't want to deny that there has been some good news.

DIANE SAWYER: If-- can Americans exhale about the fear of another rec-- of another recession?

CHAIRMAN BERNANKE: Well, again it's hard to make forecasts, but the Fed has been predicting moderate growth-- you know, for the last three years and we've been-- we've been right. There hasn't been a double dip or a second recession. Right now I think the odds of it are pretty low. But-- with forecasting you just never say never, you have to keep vigilant.

DIANE SAWYER: You don't want to use the word strong?

CHAIRMAN BERNANKE: Not yet. Again labor market's better, but-- real growth, real economic growth-- still kinda moderate. We'd like to see stronger growth which will guarantee that we keep making progress in the labor market.

DIANE SAWYER: A couple of things, you had a nice bounce in the stock market yesterday based on your speech.

CHAIRMAN BERNANKE: Well, we don't pay attention much to day-to-day movements in the stock market.

DIANE SAWYER: Well, I just want to follow up on a couple of things though they seemed to have reacted to. They seem to feel that you are pretty much saying it's guaranteed that till the end of-- the end of 2014 that short term interest rates are gonna be kept near zero. Is that pretty-- a guarantee, is that ironclad, that's--

CHAIRMAN BERNANKE: No-- we-- we've never-- issued a guarantee. We've said very clearly that that's our best estimate, that-- we're trying to tell the public first of all, you know, how we see the economy evolving and if the economy does evolve that way here's how we plan to react to that. But of course if the economy looks different, if-- things get a lot stronger or a lot weaker we'll have to change-- have to change our plans.

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