His reply was that these theories had been greatly needed in the 1930s; but if these theories should ever become harmful, I could be assured that he would quickly bring about a change in public opinion. (from Hayeks' "Personal Recollections of Keynes and the Keynesian Revolution", pg. 287)
Two weeks later, Keynes died. He never did find the time to turn public opinion around with a snap of his fingers.
Recently, Ben Bernanke was interviewed on 60 Minutes and asked if he was worried about the potential for surprising, rapid price increases following his monetary policies. Here was his reply:
We could raise interest rates in 15 minutes if we have to. So, there really is no problem with raising rates, tightening monetary policy, slowing the economy, reducing inflation, at the appropriate time. Now, that time is not now.
Earlier in the interview, Bernanke insisted that decreases in current unemployment levels would take some time:
The unemployment rate is just not going down. Unemployment is just about the same as it was in mid-2009, when the economy started growing. So that's a major concern. And it looks that, at current rates, it may take some years before the unemployment rate is back down to more normal levels.
You know, it's funny because Bernanke, like Keynes before him, insists he will have the ability to stamp out any ill side-effects of his policies instantaneously. For the one part of his "dual mandate" (low unemployment, stable prices), Bernanke claims omnipotence. But when it comes to his ability to effect any positive influence over the other part of his "dual mandate", he is strangely powerless and must patiently wait for time to play its role in healing all wounds.
One day, Bernanke may only wish he could be so lucky as Keynes as to drop dead before anyone comes begging him to snap his fingers and make the world less crazy than it was before his policies were enacted.