Former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke on Inflation, Bank Runs and More

Logo The New York TimesThe New York Times
2023-06-09 13:00:10  • 8 mins

The former Fed chairman shared his thoughts with our columnist.

I called Ben S. Bernanke, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, late in the debt-ceiling standoff. It hadnt been concluded quite yet but soon would be. This time, at least, the financial system averted another full-fledged crisis.

But when truly dire events happen and Congress and the White House are focused on political battles, the Fed often ends up as the only game in town, Mr. Bernanke said, the only policymaker that can help an economy in trouble.

Fixing the worlds urgent problems is no longer Mr. Bernankes responsibility. In 2014, he stepped down as Fed chair, after leading it through the global financial crisis. Now, at 69, he is a scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington, devoting himself mainly to research and writing.

His research, showing that bank crises can potentially have catastrophic consequences and illustrating the importance of well-functioning bank regulation, earned him a Nobel Prize in economics in 2022. That academic work, and the changes he made at the Fed, have altered the way we understand financial news, even if heis making fewer headlines himself.

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