NEW YORK: Former Federal Reserve (Fed) chairman Ben Bernanke is joining bond giant Pimco as a senior advisor, as the firm seeks to bolster its star power following the departure of co-founder Bill Gross.
The move may be questioned by some competitors who had criticised the Fed during Bernanke’s reign for being too close to Pimco, whose full name is Pacific Investment Management Co.
The critics suggested that could have potentially given the Newport Beach, California-based firm an advantage in interpreting monetary policy.
In an interview, Bernanke, who only last week announced he’d signed on to consult for the hedge fund Citadel, said he would restrict his Wall Street advisory roles to just the two firms. He also works at the Brookings Institution.
“I remain full time at Brookings. I am not an employee of either firm. I am an outside senior advisor,” Bernanke, 61, told Reuters.
“This is it,” he said. “There won’t be anymore. They (Pimco and Citadel) prefer not having me consult too many firms and I personally think working with two firms will be plenty.”
Both Pimco, which oversees US$1.59 trillion (RM5.63 trillion) in assets as of March 31, and Bernanke declined to say how much he would be paid but did say he will be attending every Pimco quarterly meeting of top executives. He will not come cheap, though, given he received as much as US$250,000 (RM885,780) for single speaking engagements last year - more than the US$200,000 (RM708,624) he received in annual salary as Fed chairman.
Bernanke said he had never met Gross, the legendary bond manager known as the ‘Bond King’ who suddenly exited Pimco last September for smaller rival Janus Capital Group Inc. For decades, Gross had brushed off the suggestions that Pimco was too close to the Fed under Bernanke, who chaired the Fed between February 2006-February 2014.
“The Fed does not regulate Pimco or its parent or any other firm that is affiliated with it,” Bernanke said. The same situation obtains with Citadel, he said. “So there is no contact.” He added: “I am not going to be involved in any kind of lobbying or any kind of influence with the Fed or Congress or anybody else in the government.”
Former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan, Bernanke’s predecessor, also consulted for Pimco, which is owned by Germany’s Allianz SE , between 2007 and 2011.
In late 2008, the Fed hired Pimco, along with three other big Wall Street firms, to implement enormous purchases of agency mortgage-backed securities to keep interest rates low and spur the US economy. Pimco also managed the commercial-paper assets for the Fed during that period. - Reuters