Ben Bernanke The Courage To Act

Ben Bernanke Gives Himself A Grade: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

Ben Bernanke Gives Himself A Grade: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast by Freakonomics

Our latest Freakonomics Radio episode is called “Ben Bernanke Gives Himself a Grade” (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above.)

An interview with the former Fed chairman: He was handed the keys to the global economy just as it started heading off a cliff. Fortunately, he’d seen this movie before.

Below is a transcript of the episode, modified for your reading pleasure. For more information on the people and ideas in the episode, see the links at the bottom of this post. And you’ll find credits for the music in the episode noted within the transcript.

*     *     *

[MUSIC: Kero One, “Bossa Soundcheck” (from Early Believers)]

Hey, podcast listeners. As you may know, Freakonomics Radio is produced by WNYC, a public-radio station that relies on your support to keep us going. We try to not bother you with this too much, but today we have a great opportunity: If 1,000 listeners like you donate by the end of the month, then one of our sponsors, New York Life, will kick in an extra $30,000 to support this program and WNYC.

What’s that, you say? You’d love to help us meet this New York Life challenge? Awesome! Just click here or use your mobile phone to text the word “Freak” to 698-66 and you’ll get a response with a link where you can contribute. Your donation is tax-deductible and there’s some choice Freakonomics swag to be had – t-shirts, coffee mugs, signed books. We need your support and we need it now. So thanks for your donation, for helping us to keep making episodes of Freakonomics Radio – like this one.

*     *     *

ROGER FERGUSON: Raise your right hand,  and repeat after me. I, Ben S. Bernanke …

BEN BERNANKE: I, Ben S. Bernanke …

FERGUSON: Do solemnly swear…

BERNANKE: Do solemnly swear …

On Feb. 1, 2006, the economist Ben Bernanke became the 14th Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, a job better known as Fed Chairman. Until just four years earlier, he’d been a longtime creature of academia, primarily at Princeton. But in 2002, he took a job as one of seven Fed Governors, under Chairman Alan Greenspan. He later spent several months as the head of the Council of Economic Advisers in George Bush’s White House. It was President Bush who first named Bernanke the Fed Chairman.

[MUSIC: Kero One, “Princess Diamond”]

BERNANKE: So, I didn’t come from Texas. I wasn’t part of President Bush’s original team; I wasn’t involved in his elections.  He basically, you know, got interested in me based on my professional qualifications, my academic reputation and the like.  

STEPHEN DUBNER: You write that your wife cried when you were offered the Fed Chairmanship. But these were not tears of joy — at least purely not. Why? What did she foresee?

BERNANKE: Well, she understood that it was going to be a tough job and that the public scrutiny was going to be tough. But, I was really interested in the economic part of the job and the policy part of the job. And the personal stresses that came along with it were — you know, it turned out to be much worse than I expected, frankly.  So, that was what she was concerned about.

DUBNER: So, she was right in some large sense, do you —


DUBNER: Do you regret having taken the job?

BERNANKE: Well, at some level. I mean, obviously I got a lot more than I anticipated, you know. But, it was an important time and I feel like I made a contribution. And so I’m happy about that. 

Today on Freakonomics Radio, a conversation about the life story that Bernanke tells in his recent book, The Courage to Act. He explains what FDR got right and wrong during the Great Depression and he assesses another political giant from that era. Also: why an economist in the employ of the Federal Government isn’t always as candid as the facts might demand.

See full transcript here.

Ben Bernanke The Courage To Act

The Courage to Act: A Memoir of a Crisis and Its Aftermath by Ben Bernanke

Comments (2)

  • ottovbvs

    Not unreasonable since he, Geithner, Paulson and Obama avoided a huge bullet for the financial industry and US economy. And before the usual idiot chorus weigh in about saving banksters and other stage villains, all those bailouts have made a profit for the Treasury of around 200 billion and that’s without the 80 billion a year the Fed is sending the treasury from the coupons on all those MBS and treasury bills.

    December 6, 2015 at 5:11 pm
  • Get_Down

    And he thinks people would be interested in reading his book? Give me a break! He can’t even pay me to purchase a copy. Go away…please?!

    December 6, 2015 at 5:39 pm


Saved Articles

The Life and Career of Charlie Munger

Charlie is more than just Warren Buffett’s friend and Berkshire Hathaway’s Vice Chairman – Buffett has actually credited him with redefining how he looks at investing. Now you can learn from Charlie firsthand via this incredible ebook and over a dozen other famous investor studies by signing up below:

  • Learn from the best and forever change your investing perspective
  • One incredible tidbit of knowledge after another in the page-turning masterpiece of a book
  • Discover the secrets to Charlie’s success and how to apply it to your investing
Never Miss A Story!
Subscribe to ValueWalk Newsletter. We respect your privacy.

Are you an intelligent investor?

ValueWalkPremium is a website and newsletter for smart investors like yourself. We focus on the latest hedge fund industry news much of which is not in the public domain and obtained via our sources.

We also have 10 years of resources on how to use this information to better your investment process.

Sign up for  today for only a few dollars a day and get a 3 day no obligation trial with a targeted 20% discount coupon code.

Cancel anytime during trial and you are never charged.

Limited time offer: For first 50 subscribers