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Why Can't Ben Bernanke Refinance His House?

The former Fed chair told a crowd in Chicago he tried unsuccessfully to refinance his house, which led to plenty of playful speculation.

Why Can't Ben Bernanke Refinance His House?
Getty Images / Alex Wong
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Ben Bernanke must be feeling pretty small these days. The former Fed chair spoke about his own finances Thursday at a conference in Chicago, and as you can see by Bloomberg's headline, times are tight. Now, you would think two terms as chairman of the Federal Reserve during one of the tightest economic environments in generations might get you all the loan resources you need.

But Bernanke told the crowd, "Just between the two of us … I recently tried to refinance my mortgage, and I was unsuccessful in doing so."

When the crowd laughed, he added, "I'm not making that up."

There are some theories floating around out there in varying degrees of credibility. The first being that he's a think tank man now. While he can make tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars per speech, he isn't salaried anymore, and it's still a new job for him.

The New York Times pointed out, "While his earning potential is vast, it is irregular, with an unpredictable stream of revenue from speeches and book advance payments."

While we can't imagine the man who set the nation's interest rates getting to this point, it's also possible the value of his home dropped below what he owes and Bernanke's upside-down on his reported $800,000-plus house.

Those seem the most likely scenarios to us outside of someone who has a beef with Bernanke and doesn't care how likely they are to get called out on it. (Video via Brookings Institution)

Bloomberg reports Bernanke went on to use his own frustrations as an example of why he thinks lenders and regulators "may have gone a little bit too far on mortgage credit conditions."

This video includes images from Getty Images.