In 2012, Ben Bernanke, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, gave a series of lectures about the Federal Reserve and the 2008 financial crisis, as part of a course at George Washington University on the role of the Federal Reserve in the economy.Read more...
In 2012, Ben Bernanke, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, gave a series of lectures about the Federal Reserve and the 2008 financial crisis, as part of a course at George Washington University on the role of the Federal Reserve in the economy. In this unusual event, Bernanke revealed important background and insights into the central bank's crucial actions during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Taken directly from these historic talks, The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis offers insight into the guiding principles behind the Fed's activities and the lessons to be learned from its handling of recent economic challenges.
Bernanke traces the origins of the Federal Reserve, from its inception in 1914 through the Second World War, and he looks at the Fed post-1945, when it began operating independently from other governmental departments such as the Treasury. During this time the Fed grappled with episodes of high inflation, finally tamed by then-chairman Paul Volcker. Bernanke also explores the period under his predecessor, Alan Greenspan, known as the Great Moderation. Bernanke then delves into the Fed's reaction to the recent financial crisis, focusing on the central bank's role as the lender of last resort and discussing efforts that injected liquidity into the banking system. Bernanke points out that monetary policies alone cannot revive the economy, and he describes ongoing structural and regulatory problems that need to be addressed.
Providing first-hand knowledge of how problems in the financial system were handled, The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis will long be studied by those interested in this critical moment in history.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-01-14
- Reviewer: Staff
In this edited collection of lectures (originally delivered at the George Washington University in March 2012), Bernanke (Essays on the Great Depression) portrays the U.S. Federal Reserve’s actions during the 2008 financial crisis as consistent with the role of central banks, and as a series of unfortunately necessary improvisations. The most glaring issue that emerges is the mismatch between regulatory agencies, still operating with a Depression-era mindset, and today’s complex financial system. This situation was exacerbated leading up to the 2008 crisis by the undercapitalization of agencies such as Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and a flurry of innovative mortgage practices. Bernanke’s dispassionate, academic tone throughout contrasts, no doubt deliberately, with the sheer terror manifested by the media at the time. Bernanke offers no crystal-ball vision, noting dourly, “financial crises will always be with us.” The lessons learned include the virtues of making the Fed more transparent about its goals; the benefits of international coordination; and the need to end the “too-big-to-fail” dilemma. The sophisticated economist probably will find these speeches lacking in both financial details and theory; the more general reader probably will be thankful for this approach. Anyone interested in a primer on recent financial history will likely find Bernanke’s book to be worthwhile reading. 1 halftone, 39 line illus. (Mar.)