"Perhaps smack of desperation, and pull us into a tighter relationship with other parts of government"—those were the arguments of Vince Reinhart in 2003 against the aggressive policies (like currency depreciation, money-financed tax cuts, discount-window lending, purchases of corporate debt and equity, and reductions in reserve requirements) that Ben Bernanke had previously argued that a central bank should follow at the zero lower bound. But if you maintain your independence by not doing the right thing, you were never independent in the first place. And desperation is the appropriate response to being at the zero lower bound on interest rates: it is a desperate situation. I think that somehow Bernanke (and Reinhart, and the Fed) came to believe that "encouraging investors to expect short rates to be lower in the future than they currently anticipate; shifting relative supplies to affect risk premiums; oversupplying reserves at the zero funds rate" had a good chance of being effective. It was not clear to me why they should have thought this. And it looks like they were wrong: Laurence Ball (2012): Ben Bernanke and The Zero Bound: "From 2000 to 2003, when Ben Bernanke was a professor and then a Fed Governor, he wrote extensively about monetary policy at the zero bound on interest rates...

...He advocated aggressive stimulus policies, such as a money-financed tax cut and an inflation target of 3-4%. Yet, since U.S. interest rates hit zero in 2008, the Fed under Chairman Bernanke has taken more cautious actions. This paper asks when and why Bernanke changed his mind about zero-bound policy. The answer, at one level, is that he was influenced by analysis from the Fed staff that was presented at the FOMC meeting of June 2003. This answer raises another question: why did the staff’s views influence Bernanke so strongly? I seek answers to this question in the social psychology literature on group decision-making.