Ben Bernanke is an American economist who has played a major role in devising national economic policy of the United States of America over the years. He is perhaps best known for heading the U.S. Federal Reserve between the years 2006 and 2014.
Bernanke was born on 13th December, 1953, in Augusta, Georgia, but ended up being raised in Dillon, South Carolina. He showed signs of his intellectual brilliance in his early days after winning the state spelling bee when he was just 11 years old. This quality manifested again later in his life when he gained admission in to Harvard University after posting the highest SAT scores in the whole of South Carolina during that year. Bernanke completed his degree in economics in 1975 from Harvard and subsequently sought to pursue is post doctorate studies in the discipline – a feat he managed to achieve from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1979.
After completing his education, Bernanke joined Stanford University as an economics professor. He held that position until 1985, after which he switched to Princeton. Ben Bernanke balanced his teaching efforts with public service, as he simultaneously assisted the Federal Reserve and other regional reserve banks as a consultant/advisor on important economic issues in the 1980s. He prospered in both roles, and his importance was recognized by Princeton University when he was made chair of the economics department in 1996. He held that office for six years when in 2002 he decided to go on public service leave to concentrate more on his work for the Federal Reserve. Come 2005, Bernanke officially resigned from Princeton in all capacities.
Bernanke’s motivation to quit Princeton started to manifest ever since he was made Federal Reserve governor in 2002. When in 2005 George W. Bush made Bernanke the Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, he was left with no choice but to leave Princeton altogether. Clearly impressed by Bernanke’s ability, Bush subsequently nominated him as one of the candidates to replace the retiring Alan Greenspan as Chairman of the United States Central Bank in 2005. Senator John Kerry and Senator Charles Schumer were amongst the vast number politicians and popular personalities who advocated Bernanke’s appointment.
On 1 February 2006, Ben Bernanke was made chairman by President Bush and began his tenure thereof. He held the crucial responsibility of devising effective monetary policies, including ones during America’s most devastating economic crisis since the Great Depression. In 2008 when a number of Wall Street financial institutions were declaring bankruptcy, Bernanke played a key role in controlling the predicament. Some of his crucial decisions during that time included sanctioning the $85 million pay packet to keep A.I.G. afloat and facilitating the takeover of Bear Stearns by J. P. Morgan Chase.
In 2010 when Bernanke’s four year spell as chair was about to end, he received another nomination to remain in office, this time by President Barack Obama. This time however, his nomination was not received as warmly as the previous instance, as a lot of people were critical of his decision making during the financial crisis, especially with regards to bail outs of large corporates. Bernanke however, was re-elected to serve as head up until 2014. He only finished his second spell recently in January 2014, passing on the post to another influential American economist, Janet Yellen.
During his professional career, Ben Bernanke also found the time to author some of his own personal works. Some of his most prominent books include Essays on the Great Depression (2000), as well as textbooks such as Macroeconomics, which he co-authored with Andrew B. Able in 1992, and Principles of Economics, written alongside Robert H. Frank.
Books by Ben Bernanke