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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, as part of a course at George Washington University on the role of the Federal Reserve in the economy. In this unusual event, Bernanke revealed important background and insights into the central bank's crucial actions during the 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, as part of a course at George Washington University on the role of the Federal Reserve in the economy. In this unusual event, Bernanke revealed important background and insights into the central bank's crucial actions during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Taken directly from these historic talks, The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis offers insight into the guiding principles behind the Fed's activities and the lessons to be learned from its handling of recent economic challenges. Bernanke traces the origins of the Federal Reserve, from its inception in 1914 through the Second World War, and he looks at the Fed post-1945, when it began operating independently from other governmental departments such as the Treasury. During this time the Fed grappled with episodes of high inflation, finally tamed by then-chairman Paul Volcker. Bernanke also explores the period under his predecessor, Alan Greenspan, known as the Great Moderation. Bernanke then delves into the Fed's reaction to the recent financial crisis, focusing on the central bank's role as the lender of last resort and discussing efforts that injected liquidity into the banking system. Bernanke points out that monetary policies alone cannot revive the economy, and he describes ongoing structural and regulatory problems that need to be addressed. Providing first-hand knowledge of how problems in the financial system were handled, The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis will long be studied by those interested in this critical moment in history.


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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, as part of a course at George Washington University on the role of the Federal Reserve in the economy. In this unusual event, Bernanke revealed important background and insights into the central bank's crucial actions during the 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, as part of a course at George Washington University on the role of the Federal Reserve in the economy. In this unusual event, Bernanke revealed important background and insights into the central bank's crucial actions during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Taken directly from these historic talks, The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis offers insight into the guiding principles behind the Fed's activities and the lessons to be learned from its handling of recent economic challenges. Bernanke traces the origins of the Federal Reserve, from its inception in 1914 through the Second World War, and he looks at the Fed post-1945, when it began operating independently from other governmental departments such as the Treasury. During this time the Fed grappled with episodes of high inflation, finally tamed by then-chairman Paul Volcker. Bernanke also explores the period under his predecessor, Alan Greenspan, known as the Great Moderation. Bernanke then delves into the Fed's reaction to the recent financial crisis, focusing on the central bank's role as the lender of last resort and discussing efforts that injected liquidity into the banking system. Bernanke points out that monetary policies alone cannot revive the economy, and he describes ongoing structural and regulatory problems that need to be addressed. Providing first-hand knowledge of how problems in the financial system were handled, The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis will long be studied by those interested in this critical moment in history.

30 review for The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis

  1. 5 out of 5

    mh

    Two-and-a-half stars. See the videotapes & transcripts of the lectures comprising this short 42,000-word book here. See Robert Solow's review here. Near the very end of this book (pp. 125-126), a student asks: STUDENT: Do you think that 2 percent is enough of a cushion to prevent deflation? And have you considered higher inflation target rates? BERNANKE: That is a great question, and there has been a lot of research on it. It seems that the international consensus is around 2 percent. Almost Two-and-a-half stars. See the videotapes & transcripts of the lectures comprising this short 42,000-word book here. See Robert Solow's review here. Near the very end of this book (pp. 125-126), a student asks: STUDENT: Do you think that 2 percent is enough of a cushion to prevent deflation? And have you considered higher inflation target rates? BERNANKE: That is a great question, and there has been a lot of research on it. It seems that the international consensus is around 2 percent. Almost all central banks that have a target have either a 2 percent target or a 1-3 percent target or something similar. And there is a trade-off here, because, on the one hand, you want to have it above zero, as you say, in order to avoid or reduce deflation risk. But on the other hand, if inflation is too high, it is going to create problems for markets. It is going to make the economy less efficient. And so there is a trade-off in which one level of inflation gives you at least some reasonable buffer against deflation, but it is not so high that it makes markets work less well. And so again, the international consensus has been around 2 percent, and that is where the Fed has been informally for quite a while. So that is what we announced, and for the foreseeable future that is where we plan to stay. But obviously researchers will continue to look at this issue, trying to pinpoint exactly where the optimal trade-off is [my emphases]. What's striking about Bernanke's reply is its implication that he believes matters like the optimal rate of currency debasement are technical, not ethical; for him the proper rate of inflation is a technical question best decided upon by "researchers" whom he believes can "pinpoint exactly where the optimal" rate of debasement should be. This is one of many instances in which he exudes extraordinary (and imo unfounded) confidence in the salvific powers of fellow members of his particular clerisy. This short book is loaded with unthought suppositions & professions of such faith. Ben rarely imagines himself faced with an ethical or moral question that cannot be settled by researchers. I found it odd that in this short book Bernanke repeatedly justifies his actions by citing Walter Bagehot's famous dictum to lend freely at a penalty rate—as if invocation of the dictum could serve as a talisman to repulse criticism of various bailouts. What restrains anyone from invoking Bagehot's dictum to justify anything? Ben, a historian, doesn't muse upon this question. It's a shame that Ben proffers no thoughts upon Bagehot's contemporary & intellectual opponent, Thomson Hanke, whose writings on the the unintended consequences of socialized credit risk strike me as far more prophetic. Bernanke comes across in these lectures as unperturbable, self-assured, and wildly incurious about the actual activities taking place in the realm over which he presides, a man who justifies his controversial decisions by invoking the talismanic power of a famous economist (Bagehot) whose precept is treated as unquestionable holy writ, a man with no ambition seemingly greater than maintaining the perogatives of the institution that has benefitted him so greatly and that he would like to see perpetuated, even though he offers scant evidence of its worth and inadvertently provides numerous examples justifying its disbandment.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Hopkins

    There is one reform still needed following the financial crisis and recession of December 2007 - June 2009 and this book makes an admirable attempt. That needed teform lay with the American public learning more about financial and economic stability, the function of the Federal Reserve and other key players, the difference between monetary and fiscal policy, and perhaps most important, how not to be swept up ever again in a tsunami of pre-crisis economic optimism and a complex financial world we There is one reform still needed following the financial crisis and recession of December 2007 - June 2009 and this book makes an admirable attempt. That needed teform lay with the American public learning more about financial and economic stability, the function of the Federal Reserve and other key players, the difference between monetary and fiscal policy, and perhaps most important, how not to be swept up ever again in a tsunami of pre-crisis economic optimism and a complex financial world we don’t understand as American citizens. I have long admired Ben Bernanke’s communication skills and he delivers again with this slim volume of four lectures. I have spent 13 years living through the effects of the housing/financial crisis and recession. I figured it was worth a day of my time to read this book to understand what I did not understand before. I hope you will, too.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Venky

    This book is a compilation of four lectures delivered in 2012 by Ben Bernanke, the former Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve. These lectures formed part of a course at George Washington University on the role played by the Federal Reserve in the Economy. The first lecture elucidates the underpinnings that lead to the formation of the Federal Reserve as well as the roles and responsibilities of the Federal Reserve in keeping the economy stable as well as ensuring financial and fiscal This book is a compilation of four lectures delivered in 2012 by Ben Bernanke, the former Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve. These lectures formed part of a course at George Washington University on the role played by the Federal Reserve in the Economy. The first lecture elucidates the underpinnings that lead to the formation of the Federal Reserve as well as the roles and responsibilities of the Federal Reserve in keeping the economy stable as well as ensuring financial and fiscal balance. Bernanke provides a clear overview of the tools employed by the Federal Reserve such as monetary policy and also acting as a lender of last resort. The events leading to the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1914 sets the flavor for the next three lectures. The second lecture reviews milestone developments in Central Banking and with the Federal Reserve post the catastrophic World War II. The perils of inflation and the potential remedial measures are dealt with in parallel to a refreshing overview of the Great Moderation. This lecture also lays out the build up to the Great Financial Recession of 2008-09. The penultimate lecture dwells at length on the Financial Recession in general and what Bernanke terms "its intense phase" in particular. The cataclysmic collapse of Lehmann Brothers and the near disastrous folding up of AIG are some of the features forming part of this lecture. The swift response initiated by the Federal Reserve and the policy making body in conjunction with similar establishments across the globe are cited as stellar examples of international co-operation undertaken to prevent a global financial meltdown. The final lecture is somewhat introspective in nature. Employing a medium of candour that is rare amongst policymakers, Bernanke admits to various shortcomings, both in the Federal Reserve as well as in the Banking Regulatory mechanisms that more or less led to unscrupulous deal making; spawned the creation of esoteric derivatives/financial instruments; facilitated the expansion of systemically gargantuan firms that were "too big to fail"; and ultimately bought the entire global financial system to the brink of ruin. Bernanke also talks about future reforms such as the implementation of reforms such as the Dodd-Frank Act, supervising the working of investment banks and other player in the money market such as hedge funds etc. He also makes a very important point of allowing firms to 'fail' but in a manner that would pose the least strain on the economy. Allowing the untrammeled growth of "too big to fail" firms would not only lead to a sense of complacency, but will also fuel the undesirable feature of "moral hazard". For a person desirous of understanding the working of the United States Federal Reserve in general and the institutional role played by it during a financial crisis, in particular, she would be well served to read this collection of lectures.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Marks54

    This book presents four lectures that Chairman Bernanke gave recently on the origins and details of the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, what the Federal Reserve did in response to the crisis, and how the actions taken by the Federal Reserve worked out. These are exceptionally clear and thoughtful statements of both policy and its execution and the do a great service to the public by showcasing the Federal Reserve chairman's efforts to inform the public and clarify expectations to market This book presents four lectures that Chairman Bernanke gave recently on the origins and details of the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, what the Federal Reserve did in response to the crisis, and how the actions taken by the Federal Reserve worked out. These are exceptionally clear and thoughtful statements of both policy and its execution and the do a great service to the public by showcasing the Federal Reserve chairman's efforts to inform the public and clarify expectations to market actors. The lectures will not provide much new information to those who have been following the crisis, but they will shed light on the Fed and Ben Bernanke's role. It would be wonderful if other heads of government branches provided such a service to the public. For readers with less background, these lectures provide a good introduction to the crisis and its contexts.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jason Furman

    A collection of four lectures Bernanke gave to a GW undergraduate course in 2012, The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis covers the history of the central banking, the origins of the crisis, the response to the crisis, and the status of the recovery (circa 2012, which is probably the only dated aspect of the book since the roles of unemployment and productivity have more clearly reversed since then). Overall an excellent overview of all of these topics, very little that is new for a A collection of four lectures Bernanke gave to a GW undergraduate course in 2012, The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis covers the history of the central banking, the origins of the crisis, the response to the crisis, and the status of the recovery (circa 2012, which is probably the only dated aspect of the book since the roles of unemployment and productivity have more clearly reversed since then). Overall an excellent overview of all of these topics, very little that is new for a specialist (especially one who follows Bernanke's speeches), but certainly a good first stop for a non-specialist who is interested in these questions and worthwhile reading more broadly.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tony Schmitt

    This book should renamed, "How I Ben Bernanke kept the world from collapsing and saved capitalism, and now there's nothing to worry about." There is some information about how the Fed functions, but it's largely just a puff piece on how great the Fed is and how they totally had everything under control, ignoring that if they had anything in hand there never would have been a financial crisis in the first place.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Fred Kohn

    A good economics book explains things you didn't realize before and makes you think about things you hadn't thought about before. This series of four lectures isn't an exhaustive history of the fed, nor is it an exhaustive look at fed policy during and after the crisis. But in a mere 129 Bernanke gets a lot done.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sep Eb

    Full of contradictions, omissions and self-avowed ignorance. Ben Bernanke has mastered the art of appearing competent while serving Wall St and not having good answers for issues that affect Main St, which is essentially how he sees the role of the Federal Reserve: To perpetuate the economic system that squeezes life out of ordinary people for the wealthy profit seekers on corporate boards and Wall St offices.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Geraldo

    Must read - understand what our last depression was all about Very readable by non economist. Gives you a clear picture of what happened in the 2008 crash as well as 1930. And where better to get this information than Bernanke, the Feds chairman I bought 4 copies and am giving it to each one of my children.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Beke

    My knowledge on 2008 crisis has been significantly deepened after his structured and informative set of lectures. It was really good foundation base to study the topic in more detail. I would really recommend it to other who want to have general and complete info on Federal Reserve and financial crisis.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brian Conner

    Very informative read. Clearly walks the reader through the origination and history of the Federal Reserve, the response of the FED during the financial crisis, and the aftermath of the crisis. Simple to understand. Would highly recommend.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Terry

    Very clear explanation of what fed does, how and why. Good analysis of the 2008 financial crisis, the action fed has taken, and how to exit. Many of what he says has since played out.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Utkarsh Parasrampuria

    An eye opening account of the other side of the financial crisis. Describes among other things how the unpopular bailouts was the best action the Fed could've taken.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Matt Witten

    Good for a topline understanding of the Fed, as well as their role in the Financial Crisis - both before and after. It's based on a series of lectures, so it's a fairly quick and easy read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jough

    Excellent set of lectures, to include student questions on the Financial Crisis of 2008. Lot's of history and supporting financial theory. In general a good read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lena Erickson

    For someone like myself who is interested in but entirely new to monetary & fiscal policy, this little collection of lectures is a great introduction. Bernanke speaks in clear and simple terms but doesn't dumb down the material. Planning to watch the lectures and see which medium is better - the book or the videos. Regardless, I always appreciate a book that makes me eager to learn more about a topic, especially one as dense as modern central banking.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Carl Johnson

    A surprisingly straightforward explanation of the purpose and function of Central Banks, in particular the Federal Reserve System. This slim volume consists of four lectures that cover a lot of ground in just over a hundred pages (including charts and Q&A): (a) the Great Depression, (b) the Post-War years, (c) the recent Financial Crisis, and (d) the prognosis for recovery. The first lecture opens with an explanation of how a simple monetary system like a gold-based economy works, and A surprisingly straightforward explanation of the purpose and function of Central Banks, in particular the Federal Reserve System. This slim volume consists of four lectures that cover a lot of ground in just over a hundred pages (including charts and Q&A): (a) the Great Depression, (b) the Post-War years, (c) the recent Financial Crisis, and (d) the prognosis for recovery. The first lecture opens with an explanation of how a simple monetary system like a gold-based economy works, and Bernanke points out that a truly gold-based economy will induce deflation as an economy grows--because the supply of gold remains more or less constant even if more and more goods and services are being provided--which leads to the predicament of having to repay loans for fixed amounts while earning less and less for goods and services provided. He goes on to note that a self-regulating monetary system is also poorly paired with modern economies based on banking because the stability of any bank is primarily a function of trust in that bank's ability to refund a deposit on demand even though the majority of any bank's resources are invariably tied up in secured loans. If confidence in a bank fails, the very clients who seek to avoid disaster by withdrawing their deposits will likely cause their own doom. This can lead to the widespread failure of other banks, especially as these institutions have become increasingly more entwined in their obligations. Without some party with sufficient resources to stem the tide, economic collapse can result. Bernanke thus lays the groundwork for the following discussions of the function of Central Banks by stating that their main purposes are (a) to moderate swings in the economy and (b) to guarantee economic stability by serving as the lender of last resort. What follows is an very selective overview of the economic history of the US and how the Federal Reserve has either responded or failed to respond to the major economic challenges of the past hundred years since the establishment of the Federal Reserve System in 1913. One truly startling omission is any mention of the Bretton Woods System of the Post-War years during which currencies worldwide were pegged to the Dollar which was in turn pegged to Gold. Nixon unilaterally abandoned the system to stem off a run on US Gold reserves caused by an artificially low price for Gold, which raises an interesting philosophic question about the value of money--about which Bernanke says nothing. He concentrates instead on the availability of money.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Max de Freitas

    Bernanke is a brilliant teacher. His lectures are clear and concise. He is transparent about monetary policy, freely admitting mistakes, highlighting lessons learned, and providing sage guidance for the future. He is circumspect about the 2008 bailout. Hank Paulson of the Treasury was responsible for that. The 2008 oil price spike was the largest in history. The mortgage crisis was minor by comparison. Bernanke stuck to the script of justifying the bailout on the collapse of mortgage-backed Bernanke is a brilliant teacher. His lectures are clear and concise. He is transparent about monetary policy, freely admitting mistakes, highlighting lessons learned, and providing sage guidance for the future. He is circumspect about the 2008 bailout. Hank Paulson of the Treasury was responsible for that. The 2008 oil price spike was the largest in history. The mortgage crisis was minor by comparison. Bernanke stuck to the script of justifying the bailout on the collapse of mortgage-backed securities while deftly avoiding any mention of the massive losses investment banks sustained through oil price speculation. The mortgage crisis was slowly progressing since house prices peaked in the middle of 2006. The Federal Reserve handled the crisis admirably. It directed most of its purchases towards mortgage backed securities. In 2008 there were less than 2 million homes in foreclosure. Why did Hank Paulson ask for the $700 billion to buy toxic assets? Was he planning to buy each house for an average of $350,000? In fact, very little bailout money flowed from the Treasury to distressed homeowners. Most of the money went to investment banks that had all profited from the escalation of oil prices until it suddenly collapsed. Oil traders were speculating that unrest in the Middle East would disrupt supplies. The price of oil was at $58 per barrel when the Sunday Times reported on Jan 6, 2007 that Israel planned a nuclear strike on Iran. Sabre rattling escalated. The price hit an all-time high of $147.27 per barrel on July 11, 2008. Prices fell sharply after news surfaced the US would not support an attack on Iran. The price had dropped to $91 when Lehman Brothers went bankrupt on Sept 15, 2008. Paulson bailed out AIG and launched the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. Oil prices rebounded sharply to $122 on Sept 22, 2008. Attempts by the CFTC to explain these sudden price movements by ponderous changes in supply and demand were simply not credible. By February 2009 prices were below $35. All the investment banks were now regulated. Speculators continued to run up oil prices to over $100 until the US announced its agreement to allow Iran to proceed with limited peaceful nuclear development. In 2015, prices are now less than $50 per barrel and falling.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Moses

    This book served as the backbone reference for an undergraduate paper I wrote for a class on monetary economics. Bernanke does an honest and excellent job explaining the Fed's response to the 2007-2009 financial crisis; he speaks/writes in digestible, straightforward prose and supports key points with graphs and data. He zooms in on the Fed's response to the credit runs in the wake of the Lehman Brothers collapse, on the bailouts of Bear Sterns and AIG, and makes interesting comparisons to the This book served as the backbone reference for an undergraduate paper I wrote for a class on monetary economics. Bernanke does an honest and excellent job explaining the Fed's response to the 2007-2009 financial crisis; he speaks/writes in digestible, straightforward prose and supports key points with graphs and data. He zooms in on the Fed's response to the credit runs in the wake of the Lehman Brothers collapse, on the bailouts of Bear Sterns and AIG, and makes interesting comparisons to the Great Depression. I did not award this book the full 5 stars as it only scratches the surface of the Fed's actions post-crisis. While quantitative easing is well-explained theoretically, Bernanke does not dive into the actual impact of the different phases of QE. Further, forward guidance is barely discussed. Nonetheless, a great book for an economics student looking to understand the crisis from a moentary economics perspective. Recommended.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dave Voyles

    This short read is available freely online at: https://www.federalreserve.gov/newsev... And the talks can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLoqP... This is a collection of lectures given by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke at George Washington University in 2012. I found this to be an excellent overview of what the Federal Bank is, how it came to be, and what its purpose is. Even more useful, the Chairman offers real examples of how it has failed in the past, as well as how it has succeed. This short read is available freely online at: https://www.federalreserve.gov/newsev... And the talks can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLoqP... This is a collection of lectures given by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke at George Washington University in 2012. I found this to be an excellent overview of what the Federal Bank is, how it came to be, and what its purpose is. Even more useful, the Chairman offers real examples of how it has failed in the past, as well as how it has succeed. I'm by no means an economic guru, so I found this to be a great read regardless of your economic understanding. I now have a better understanding of how financial crisis-es can occur, as well as what's available to the government to help prevent them before they ever start, as well as what they can do to curb it while it occurs.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel Riekhof

    A series of 4 lectures that set out to help the reader understand the financial crisis and the context of the financial crisis, Bernanke does a wonderful job at speaking in terms that make understanding the crisis possible. He strikes a perfect balance in assuming the reader has knowledge, but eliminating technical language that would be over their head. If you have an average understanding of finance and the great recession, then this book will be perfect for helping you understand the role the A series of 4 lectures that set out to help the reader understand the financial crisis and the context of the financial crisis, Bernanke does a wonderful job at speaking in terms that make understanding the crisis possible. He strikes a perfect balance in assuming the reader has knowledge, but eliminating technical language that would be over their head. If you have an average understanding of finance and the great recession, then this book will be perfect for helping you understand the role the Federal Reserve played, or, at least, solidify concepts you already know.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Maria Rinehart-Henderson

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. We are likely familiar with QE involving the repos of long-term US Treasuries as a mechanism to provide liquidity to the banks to live another day. Maybe what is often missing in most discussions was that targeting long-term treasuries was meant to, not only, keep rates low at the far end of the term structure to stimulate borrowing, but also to encourage savers out of treasuries into alternative investments by removing treasuries from the system. This last part makes this worth a read and maybe We are likely familiar with QE involving the repos of long-term US Treasuries as a mechanism to provide liquidity to the banks to live another day. Maybe what is often missing in most discussions was that targeting long-term treasuries was meant to, not only, keep rates low at the far end of the term structure to stimulate borrowing, but also to encourage savers out of treasuries into alternative investments by removing treasuries from the system. This last part makes this worth a read and maybe even a re-read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    great introduction to / refresher on central banking. bernanke provides a clear and concise framework for analyzing the fed's response to the financial crisis. note: the contents of this book can be downloaded (for free) from the federal reserve's website.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Reema Arya

    This book is a great recap and synopsis of events that led upto the 2007 financial crisis and fed's actions during and following the crisis. It only takes a few hours or a day to read it. Must read prior to a financial service interview or something.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jay

    easily understandable for someone w/ little macro background -- Bernanke's lectures at GWU in paperback form. Not worth 9 pounds, but a good read overall

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jan Bos

    The Fed's chairman's view on the Fed's performance during the financial crisis.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    I was fascinated to learn after reading this book that is was actually Bernanke's visit to a college campus that set off the hipster-beard bubble of the years immediately following.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Joel Blunt

    Fantastic! Simple, relatively easy review of the financial crisis and the steps the Fed took to deal with.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Clifford Stanfield

    Bernanke's view of the financial crisis. Worth a read to see why the CB made it's decisions and what it did to get the economy out of the liquidity crisis. As home values plummeted lenders found themselves either insolvent (unable to make additional loans due to Fed Res and private policies, and reserve requirements) or bankrupt (unable to meet its debts). The Q&A at the end is good too. You will also find these lectures on YouTube.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    Explanations on why the Fed acted with such accommodating monetary policy. Great read.

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