Lou Barnes on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s statements last week.

It takes guts to make a public estimate of losses in the mortgage fiasco (“$50 to $100 billion”), knowing for sure that it’s too early to be correct, that losses are likely to be larger but unpredictably so, willing to run the risk of spooking a crowd already jammed in the exits but placing high value on plain speaking. Bernanke knocked .25 percent off forecast GDP (now mid-2 percent range through 2008), and stuck with a forecast for increasing unemployment. He’s going to lean into the economy long enough and hard enough to keep inflation in the box, and housing is on its own.