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How Tough Is The Mortgage Market? Even Bernanke Can't Get Refinanced

Ben Bernanke stepped down as the chairman of the Federal Reserve in January. He told an audience in Chicago on Thursday that he has had trouble refinancing his home. Susan Walsh/AP hide caption

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Susan Walsh/AP

Ben Bernanke stepped down as the chairman of the Federal Reserve in January. He told an audience in Chicago on Thursday that he has had trouble refinancing his home.

Susan Walsh/AP

Banks have made it tougher for people to get mortgages after the Great Recession. Just how hard is it? Former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told an audience in Chicago Thursday that he was unable to refinance his home loan.

"Just between the two of us," he told moderator Mark Zandi of Moody Analytics, "I recently tried to refinance my mortgage and I was unsuccessful in doing so."

The audience at a conference of the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care laughed, prompting Bernanke to add: "I'm not making that up."

The comments were reported by Bloomberg.

The former Fed chairman added that "it's entirely possible" lenders "may have gone a little bit too far on mortgage credit conditions."

Bernanke, who stepped down as Fed chairman in January after navigating the U.S. economy through its worst crisis since the Great Depression, now earns at least $250,000 per speech, and has a book deal worth at least $1 million. So, why would he have trouble refinancing his mortgage? The New York Times explains that while Bernanke's earning potential is vast — through speeches, books and other means — it is now irregular.

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It adds: "The problem probably boils down to this: Anybody who knows how the world works may know that Ben Bernanke has vast earning potential, and that he is as safe a credit risk as one could imagine. But he just changed jobs a few months ago. And in the thoroughly automated world of mortgage finance, having recently changed jobs makes you a steeper credit risk."