I’m going to call Ben Bernanke “the man who saved America from a Depression.” To be sure others will disagree but having read the 624 page document myself about how the government, and in particular, Ben Bernanke, former Federal Reserve chairman, saved our nation from a financial catastrophe—indeed the meltdown of the American economy. Bernanke makes a compelling case how the world economy came very close to collapse.


Bernanke agreed with the critics of TARP about the moral hazard on Wall Street—the record bonuses and rampart recklessness of OPM (other people’s money) but concluded that in this particular case, too much was at stake to worry about it.


This book has been described as a “seminar” of sorts on how the modern financial system works, fails, and most importantly how to rescue it. We were lucky as a nation that a man like Bernanke was the head of the Federal Reserve. Bernanke was a scholar in the failures that lead to the Great Depression of the 1930s which prepared him to lead the government’s response to the crisis and the following Great Recession.


This is one of the better books on the Great Recession and the reasoning behind each of the Fed’s actions at the time. Bernanke explains many of the triggers and structural weaknesses of the financial system that nearly brought down the house. One example I found interesting was during the sub-prime lending (loans to those who could not afford them) were the NINJA loans—a banker’s acronym for No Income, No Job, and No Assets. Many of those borrowers defaulted on their first payment!


The former chairman didn’t act alone—his comrades in arms: Federal Reserve vice chairman Tim Geithner and Treasury Secretary Henry (Hank) Paulson invented new ways to arm-twist executives and flood the economy with loans to stymie panic. But with landmark Wall Street companies imploding—including Bear Stearns, Lehmann Brothers, AIG, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—Bernanke was shown to be a singularly important person.


About the Author:

Ben S. Bernanke served as chairman of the Federal Reserve from 2006 to 2014. He was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2009 and was a professor of economics at Princeton University prior to his career in public service.






The Courage to Act

A Memoir of a Crisis and Its Aftermath


By Ben Bernanke

Book Review

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In 2012, Ben Bernanke, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, gave a series of lectures about the Federal Reserve and the 2008 financial crisis. This book is based on those lectures.

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