Few periods in history compare to the Great Depression. Stock market crashes, bread lines, bank runs, and wild currency speculation were worldwide phenomena--all occurring with war looming in the background. This period has provided economists with a marvelous laboratory for studying the links between economic policies and institutions and economic performance. Here, Ben Bernanke has gathered together his essays on why the Great Depression was so devastating.
This broad view shows us that while the Great Depression was an unparalleled disaster, some economies pulled up faster than others, and some made an opportunity out of it. By comparing and contrasting the economic strategies and statistics of the world's nations as they struggled to survive economically, the fundamental lessons of macroeconomics stand out in bold relief against a background of immense human suffering. The essays in this volume present a uniquely coherent view of the economic causes and worldwide propagation of the depression.
"[H]aving devoted much of his career to studying the causes of the Great Depression, Bernanke was the academic expert on how to prevent financial crises from spinning out of control and threatening the general economy. One line from his Essays on the Great Depression sounds especially prescient today: 'To the extent that bank panics interfere with normal flows of credit, they may affect the performance of the real economy.' -- Roger Lowenstein, New York Times Magazine
Bernanke is the master of applied microeconomics. Not only is he technically proficient but his ability to place his results in a larger macroeconomic context is unparalleled. -- Mark Toma, Financial History Review
Mr. Bernanke certainly knows the importance of well-functioning markets. In Essays on the Great Depression he wrote persuasively that runs on the banks and extensive defaults on loans reduced the efficiency of the financial sector, prevented it from doing its normal job in allocating resources, and contributed to the Depression severity. The Depression-era problems he studied are mirrored by similar issues today, and they need urgent attention. -- Robert J. Shiller, New York Times
Ben S. Bernanke
Ben Shalom Bernanke is an American economist, and the current Chairman of the Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States. During his tenure as Chairman, Bernanke has overseen the response of the Federal Reserve to late-2000s financial crisis.
Bernanke was a tenured professor at Princeton University and was chair of the Department of Economics there from 1996 to September 2002, when he went on public service leave. From 2002 until 2005, he served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Here he outlined the Bernanke Doctrine and first spoke of the Great Moderation, where he postulated that we are in a new era, where modern macroeconomic policy has decreased the volatility of the business cycle. He then served as Chairman of President George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers before President Bush appointed him to be Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve on February 1, 2006. Bernanke was confirmed for a second term as Chairman on January 28, 2010, after being nominated by President Barack Obama.