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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A decent discussion for economics majors taking their first money & banking, monetary or macroeconomics class
This book consists of four lectures given by Bernanke to undergraduates (economics majors) at George Washington University. The lectures, as such, are at a level that is appropriate for an intro level money and banking, monetary or macroeconomics class and would have most benefit to those with prerequisites for such classes. For those with over and above this background...
Published 18 months ago by Yoda

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Where's the beef?
I was trying to find something that would explain federal monetary policy in general, like the debt, the deficit, the treasury buying bonds, fnma, and who prints money and how much. I could not find anything so I took this one, just to get an introduction to the Fed Reserve. It was ok for that limited purpose, but the critical part about quantitative easing just did not...
Published 10 months ago by Peter J. Smith


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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A decent discussion for economics majors taking their first money & banking, monetary or macroeconomics class, March 1, 2013
By 
Yoda (Hadera, Israel) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis (Hardcover)
This book consists of four lectures given by Bernanke to undergraduates (economics majors) at George Washington University. The lectures, as such, are at a level that is appropriate for an intro level money and banking, monetary or macroeconomics class and would have most benefit to those with prerequisites for such classes. For those with over and above this background the contents contained therein are probably too rudimentary. For laymen, with no economics, macro or monetary background, the class may be a little over their heads. The lectures which form this book can be found, for free, at the Federal Reserve's website at federalreserve.gov/newsevents/lectures. The four lectures, each approximately 30 pages in length, cover the origin and mission of the federal reserve, the federal reserved after the second world war, the federal reserve's response to the crisis and the aftermath of the crisis. Each also includes a number of (fairly intelligent) questions from students in the class.

In the first lecture, origins and mission of the Federal Reserve, Dr. Bernanke discusses how before the Fed was created bank runs and systemic banking system crisis were common place in the U.S. These were primarily due to runs on banks and the ensuing liquidity crunches that followed. The creation of the Federal Reserve System greatly mitigated these albeit not totally. Bernanke points out that the Federal Reserve, through its tight money policies, did play, at least in part, a role in prolonging the Great Depression. The tight money policies were primarily due to the need to maintain high interest rates to maintain the U.S. dollar to its gold value (and hence to maintain the gold standard) and a belief that tight money was needed to thoroughly "liquidate" and "clean" the economy of the "excess" that stemmed from what Greenspan would refer to as "irrational exhuberance". The Federal Reserve Governors saw no need, as Milton Friedman proposed later in the century, to increase the money supply to make up for the decrease in money supply resulting from the bank crash. Dr. Bernanke here follows the classical monetarist critique of the Fed's policies during this period.

In the second lecture, Dr. Bernanke covers the Fed's policies and actions in the post-war period through the latest financial crisis. That is the Fed's mandate to maintain both employment and minimize inflation (as opposed to the European Central Bank where the mandate is to only minimize inflation). He discusses how the Federal Reserve handled some of the serious economic conditions it had to face during this time frame, primarily the high inflation of the 1970s and the policies it used (i.e., tight money).

In the third chapter, the Federal Reserve's response to the crisis, Bernanke discusses how the crisis was one of liquidity, as opposed to long-term solvency, and the variety of tools that the Fed used such as injections of capital into the banking system through purchases of bank equity and other assets, "operation twist", etc. In the fourth and last chapter Dr. Bernanke discusses the dilemmas that will facing the Federal Reserve after the crisis ends, primarily the unwinding of its holdings of assets and associated inflationary dangers stemming from this. This chapter is quite weak as Dr. Bernanke does not discuss how, exactly, the Federal Reserve will be able to do this with little inflationary risk. In this reviewer's opinion he underestimates the risks involved as well as not adequately defining the requisite policy prescriptions in enough depth.

All and all a very good introduction to the Federal Reserve its historical role and policies and its response to the crisis albeit weak in policy prescriptions for winding down the Fed's holding of asset in a manner that minimize inflation, for its intended audience of undergraduate economics majors taking money and banking and macroeconomic classes. This is especially so considering the relatively short (about) 120 page length of the book. For those interested in a more serious analytical discussion (i.e., upper level undergraduate or lower graudate level)this reviewer highly recommend's Dr. Bernanke's "Essays on the Great Depression".
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book for citizens, June 12, 2013
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This review is from: The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis (Hardcover)
What I like about Ben Bernanke's book of lectures is that he is speaking to me, a citizen, about a subject that is not well understood by most people. I suspect that 90% of people have little or no understanding of the function of the Federal Reserve Bank. After 18 years of Alan Greenspan speaking in riddles and subterfuge it is refreshing to have a fed Chairman present a clear explanation of the role of the Federal Reserve in our economy. Of course everyone has a choice; they can listen to self serving critics and political demagoguery or they can try to lean something. I recommend this book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Where's the beef?, November 8, 2013
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I was trying to find something that would explain federal monetary policy in general, like the debt, the deficit, the treasury buying bonds, fnma, and who prints money and how much. I could not find anything so I took this one, just to get an introduction to the Fed Reserve. It was ok for that limited purpose, but the critical part about quantitative easing just did not make any sense to me. It turns out that when the Fed buys $40B a month of bonds, to inject $$ and liquidity into the markets, the Fed does not have to get the money anywhere, it just puts that much credit into the reserve accounts of the people it buys the bonds from. Which to me means that it has not injected any money into the markets, it just puts some bigger numbers into the reserve accounts for the people it "bought" the bonds from.
The book is nicely written, it is a quick read, I was just disappointed that the discussion of the only real substantive issue that I was looking for did not make any sense, to me at least.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Overview of the Fed and it's Functions, October 11, 2013
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This review is from: The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis (Hardcover)
Chairman Bernanke is a good communicator. I wish my economics professors had been half as good. He gives a lucid explanation of the evolution of central banking in advanced economies, and the history and functioning of the Federal Reserve, America's central bank. He discusses the Fed's dual roles as "lender of last resort" and it's role as the maker and implementer of US monetary policy. It is in the latter role that the Fed has been most controversial over the years, but Bernanke skirts most of that and other controversies surrounding the Fed. In discussing the Fed's role in responding to the 2007-08 financial crisis, Bernanke actually takes that skirting a step further. He denies that government policies had anything to do with that crisis, which he says arose out of problems in the private sector. That point is at least debatable, if not laughable, given the government's significant role in creating and expanding the sub-prime mortgage market. But Bernanke is a loyal trooper and follows the party line. So, if you want to learn about how the Fed came to be and how and why it functions as it does, this book will be informative and an easy read. If you want to learn about the causes of the 2007-08 economic crisis and the rightness or wrongness of government's responses to it, look elsewhere.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read for Economics ad Business Students or for Anyone Interested in Monetary Policy, September 22, 2013
This review is from: The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis (Hardcover)
Bernanke helps us understand the Fed's role during the financial crisis of 2008 and subsequent great recession. He first goes into a brief but instructive history of the Great Depression and describes its causes and why is important for the Fed to use its power of "lender of last resort" to avoid bank runs and financial panics. The Chairman describes how the Fed policies of the Great Depression were in part to blame for the collapse of the banking system, the liquidity crisis that followed, and their devastating effect on the real economy. He also explains why the gold standard contributed to the Great Depression and why such a system would be counterproductive in today's interdependent and complex global economy.

Chapters 2 and 3 are the real substance of this book. While Bernanke makes clear how the collapse of housing prices and the mortgage losses caused by the proliferation of subprime lending initiated the financial crisis, he clarifies how the vulnerabilities of the private and public financial system (e.g., excessive debt and leverage, the development of exotic and complex financial instruments with little oversight, lack of comprehensive supervision of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, etc.) precipitated and made the financial crisis far worse than it would have been otherwise. He also discusses in great detail but plain language how the Fed responded to the crisis by aggressively relying on its discount window to inject liquidity into the system.

In the last chapter, the Chairman recounts the Fed's efforts to stimulate the economy by lowering the federal funds rate (i.e., short-term interest rates), and by purchasing large scale assets like mortgages and longer-term Treasuries (i.e., quantitative easing) to lower long-term interest rates. He also describes some major aspects of the financial reforms contained in the Dodd- Frank Act of 2010 designed to address the vulnerabilities of the financial system. But he warns us that free markets always bring about "bubbles" and financial crises, and the Fed and the regulators must remain vigilant to anticipate them and deal with them effectively.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Read, November 22, 2013
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This review is from: The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis (Hardcover)
Bernanke gives a clear, if somewhat simple, description of the federal reserve and it's involvement in the 2008 crisis. It is a delightful read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative, July 29, 2013
By 
Bob Bender (Newport Coast, Ca. USA) - See all my reviews
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This book was very informative and surprisingly easy to read! The format of Bernanke giving a speech was excellent. The students asked some excellent questions.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 4 Good Lectures=1 Okay Book, March 9, 2013
This review is from: The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis (Hardcover)
This short book is a transcript of 4 lectures that Bernanke delivered, including questions from students and Bernanke's answers. Like many leaders describing an extremely important and stressful experience, Bernanke emphasizes what he chose to do and why that was the right path. Unfortunately, he spends no time on the road not taken and does not reflect on the difference that could have been. Bernanke also misses all that other institutions did (or would have done absent Fed action) during the crisis. As a banking consultant, I constantly see how various institutions fit together and know how critical it can be. The utter lack of circumspection limits this book to just another history of the financial crisis -- one with limited detail (it is quite short) albeit one from the perspective of he who really knows.

Since he is a scholar of the great depression, Bernanke spends the entire first lecture on the history of the Federal Reserve with an emphasis on what it did wrong during the great depression.

The second lecture follows the Fed from the post WW II period to modern times. Luckily, there is a sizable weighting on the events leading up to and including the current great recession. Bernanke spends a fair amount of space on the Fed's actions as the market weakeded in 2007 and 2008.

The third lecture goes into the Fed's actions during the crisis. That leaves the fourth for how the Fed can move forward as the economy recovers. As one would expect, Bernanke leaves most of the future to the reader's imagination. What he does say can best be described as platitudes.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, July 10, 2014
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Easy to read but not very deep.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent short review of the Fed and it's operation., June 24, 2014
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Bernanke goes over the origin and operation of the Federal Reserve Bank and carries it into and through the severe financial crisis of 2007 to 2009. The words are relatively easy to understand for anyone with a little economics knowledge. I found the book very worthwhile and interesting.
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The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis
The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis by Ben Bernanke (Hardcover - February 24, 2013)
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