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'The Courage To Act' by Ben Bernanke

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'The Courage To Act' by Ben Bernanke

Post by oftenwrong on Thu Oct 29, 2015 12:26 pm

Ben Bernanke is a name many people will recognise without perhaps being able to recall quite why it seems familiar.  He was the man who took over from Alan Greenspan in 2006 as Chairman of America's Federal Reserve, a job which suddenly became rather more exciting than it sounded a couple of years later.

Now he's produced a six-hundred-page book about it.  Densely written, it could not be described as an easy read, and as for British interests it mentions Gordon Brown only once, though the Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, gets a paragraph principally for having changed his mind after initially  thinking that Bankers should be left to stew in their own juice.  (Described by the Governor as "moral hazard").

Nevertheless it's illuminating to find in one place all the sordid details of what led us to the 2008 Credit Crunch as first Bear Sterns had to be lent $29 billion by the Federal Reserve, and then the Insurance giant AIG needed an injection of $85 billion as a direct consequence of Lehman Brothers going to the wall.
Bernanke's silver bullet solution was "quantitative easing", which staved off bank failures, but left savers and taxpayers generally to pick up the Bill - as we continue so to do.

The Courage to Act
by Ben S Bernanke
610 pages,  Norton  £19.99
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Re: 'The Courage To Act' by Ben Bernanke

Post by Ivan on Fri Oct 30, 2015 8:39 am

"Mr Bernanke's narrative of his time in office is a lucid, analytical affair…..the book provides a robust defence of the Fed's response to the crisis. Mr Bernanke clearly sees himself as someone who did what was necessary to save the economy from disaster, in the face of a barrage of unwarranted criticism." (‘The Economist’)

"Bernanke details the hurdles he faced, from cynically obstructive congressmen to obstreperous regulators and quarrelsome interest rate hawks, as well as hapless policymaking in Europe. During much of the panic, he writes: ‘The Fed alone, with its chewing gum and baling wire, bore the burden of battling the crisis’. The guts of his story are familiar." (‘The Financial Times’)

"It was Ben Bernanke, not Gordon Brown, who steered us through the 2008 financial meltdown…..the book's most interesting chapters are those that deal with the crisis...Above all, [Bernanke] exuded calm, even when there was plenty of inner turmoil. The calmness comes over in this book, and so does plenty of the turmoil." (‘The Sunday Times’)

The memoirs of Ben S. Bernanke, who succeeded Alan Greenspan as chairman of the Federal Reserve, are essential reading for anyone who wants to know exactly what happened at the Federal Open Market Committee meeting of 5 August 2008. Or at each of the many other Federal Open Market Committee meetings from 2006 to 2014, Bernanke’s years as chairman. Yes, the book is a bit of a slog, but it is undoubtedly the best account we will ever have of how government and financial institutions dealt with what has come to be known as the Great Recession. It’s an odd term, isn’t it? It invokes comparisons to the Great Depression and simultaneously suggests that: ‘Shucks, it wasn’t all that great. Wasn’t a depression or anything’. But Bernanke is persuasive in arguing that (a) it was pretty damned great (i.e. terrible) and (b) he and his colleagues at the Fed deserve credit for the fact that it wasn’t a heck of a lot greater.” (Michael Kinsley, ‘The New York Times’)

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Re: 'The Courage To Act' by Ben Bernanke

Post by oftenwrong on Fri Oct 30, 2015 12:37 pm

Probbly time that I lost that appendage "Sage" from my CV.
As well as the unfeasible posting-count.
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