Homeowners who have lately been unable to refinance their home have an unlikely comrade in arms: former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Speaking to Moody's Mark Zandi at a conference in Chicago Thursday, Bernanke said he recently tried refinancing his mortgage but was "unsuccessful in doing so."
Bernanke added that he thought lenders had "maybe gone a little too far" on mortgage credit conditions.
The numbers justify Bernanke's concern. Overall mortgage lending fell 54 percent in the first half of 2014 in comparison to the year before, with loans for refinancing proving more difficult to obtain than those for new purchases. And the terms for would-be buyers may worsen: In July, Bernanke's successor, Janet Yellen, said that the Fed may raise interest rates toward the end of the year.
Still, it's odd that Bernanke wouldn't qualify. In 2013, the last year of his tenure as Fed chair, Bernanke earned a salary of $199,700. But in the past year, the onetime Princeton professor has supplemented his income with a series of paid speaking engagements around the world. A talk at the National Bank of Abu Dhabi earlier this year netted Bernanke "at least" $250,000.
Following his retirement from the Fed, Bernanke, who served two terms from 2006 to 2014, joined the Brookings Institute as a Distinguished Fellow in Residence.