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 Timesexplains that while Bernanke's earning potential is vast — through speeches, books and other means — it is now irregular.

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