Ben Bernanke Reflects on 2008 Financial Crisis

The former Fed chairman talks with George Stephanopoulos on "This Week."
3:39 | 10/11/15

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Transcript for Ben Bernanke Reflects on 2008 Financial Crisis
He doesn't want to do it. I was looking -- there was one day in the 16th century when two speakers of the house of commons were beheaded on the same day. We should have had that as the puzzler. That was really tough job to fill at that point, when two were beheaded on the same day. He's feeling the same way. What is the mileage to saying yes to this? Other than the fact that everybody in the party is begging him to? Let's look at the bigger picture. Was, was to -- there were some folks that said, let the financial system fail. It's just Wall Street. We don't care. It won't affect the U.S. Economy. Our view was we eded to prevent the financial system from collapsing. You couldn't completely avoid the public debate. You write about walking by cars, and seeing the bumper sticker, where's my bailout? Absolutely. Where's my bailout? You understand that anger? Of course. First of all, it seems -- it was inherently unfair that wall Street was getting help before main street. Our motives were to try to protect main street. In the end, main street took a big hit as well. Do you think there is something wrong with the system where the only way to save main street is to bail out multimillionaires? Bailing out is a strong word. The owners of bear Stearns, the shareholders, lost most or all of their wealth. We were trying to keep the firms from collapsing. And bringing everything down with them. After the fact. After the crisis was over, it was incredibly important to take steps to make sure it doesn't happen again and to make sure that no firm is too big to fail. Bernie sanders said you failed. Can anybody deny with a straight face that the fed and its chairman, Mr. Bernanke failed at its task? They failed. What do you make of that? Well, I think that -- I understand the anger. I understand the politicians will respond to the public's concern about the economy, about their own jobs and so on. I understand that. I think that substantively, that -- they were mistaken. You write that Bernie sanders basically is a conspiracy theorist. Is that what you believe? I don't want to get into individual politicians. You write about it in your book. There is a sense that if anything bad happens, it's because some evil person willed it to happen. Having been inside the government, I can tell you, a lot of bad things that happen happen because people don't make the right choice or make mistakes. Rather than actively trying to hurt the economy. That's not usually what happens. Most Americans, even though there's been a fairly strong recovery over the last fooe few years, don't feel it. And, they think the system is rigged for the wealthy. Are they right? Well, it's certainly true that the wealthy and the higher income people have enjoyed a disproportionate part of the gains as the economy has recovered. This is not a new thing. What can be done about that? It takes sustained effort. It could be improved. I could give you a long list of policies. Give me three. I'll give you three. Better training and skills. Getting people up to the point where they can compete in the global economy. Public infrastructure. Research and development. The government needs to support R & D. To help improve our technical knowledge and to keep America in first place globally in technological advances. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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