From a policy standpoint, another interesting statement by Bernanke came during the Q&As that followed his speech when Bernanke indicated that reducing the rate of interest paid on reserves by the Fed would have little stimulative effect on bank lending. (For more details, see Joe Weisenthal of Business Insider)
This is actually significant seeing as Bernanke suggested in the past that one of the options that the Fed has to entice banks to lend is to reduce the rate of interest paid on reserves. Here is an excerpt from his testimony before Congress in July of last year:
...we have a number of ways in which we could act to ease financial conditions further. [...] The Federal Reserve could also reduce the 25 basis point rate of interest it pays to banks on their reserves, thereby putting downward pressure on short-term rates more generally.Recall that since December 2008 when the Fed started paying interest on reserves, the Fed's instrument has been effectively its asset portfolio. The policy of paying interest on reserves is a policy tool used to support the active use of this instrument.