Last updated on: 2/2/2017 | Author: ProCon.org

Ben Bernanke, PhD Biography

Title:
Former Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Position:
Con to the question "Should the United States Return to a Gold Standard?"
Reasoning:

“[O]ne of the strengths that people cite for the gold standard is that it creates a stable value for the currency. It creates a stable inflation, and that’s true over very long periods. But over shorter periods, maybe up to 5 or 10 years, you can actually have a lot of inflation, rising prices, or deflation, falling prices, in a gold standard. And the reason is that in a gold standard, the amount of money in the economy varies according to things like gold strikes. So for example, in the United States, if gold was discovered in California and the amount of gold in the economy goes up, that will cause an inflation, whereas if the economy is growing faster and there’s a shortage of gold, that will cause a deflation. So over shorter periods of time, you frequently had both inflations and deflations…

I think though that the gold standard would not be feasible for both practical reasons and policy reasons. On the practical side, it is just a simple fact there is not enough gold to meet the needs of a global gold standard and achieving that much gold would be very expensive. In a modern world, the commitment to the gold standard would mean that we are swearing that under no circumstances, no matter how bad unemployment gets, are we going to do anything about it using monetary policy… So I understand the impulse but I think if you look at actual history, you’ll see that the gold standard didn’t work that well and it worked particularly poorly after World War I. Indeed, well I won’t go into it, there’s a good bit of evidence that the gold standard was one of the main reasons that the depression was so deep and long. And a striking fact is that countries that left the gold standard early and gave themselves flexibility on monetary policy recovered much more quickly.”

“The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis: Origins and Mission of the Federal Reserve,” federalreserve.gov, Mar. 20, 2012

Theoretical Expertise Ranking:
Experts
Individuals with PhDs or equivalent advanced degrees in fields relevant to the gold standard. Also top-level government officials (such as foreign leaders, US presidents, Founding Fathers, Supreme Court Justices, members of legislative bodies, cabinet members, military leaders, etc.) with positions relevant to the gold standard.
Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Distinguished Fellow in Residence, Hutchins Center on Fiscal & Monetary Policy, Brookings Institution, 2014-present
  • Member, Board of Governors, Federal Reserve System, Feb. 1, 2006-present
  • Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Feb. 1, 2010-Jan. 31, 2014
  • Chairman, Federal Open Market Committee, Federal Reserve System, Feb. 1, 2006-Jan. 31, 2014
  • Fellow, Econometric Society
  • Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Chairman, President’s Council of Economic Advisers, June 2005-Jan. 2006
  • Member, Board of Governors, Federal Reserve System, 2002-2005
  • Howard Harrison and Gabrielle Snyder Beck Professor of Economics and Public Affairs and Chair of the Economics Department, Princeton University, 1996-2002
  • Member, Academic Advisory Panel, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 1990-2002
  • Visiting Scholar, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 1990-1991, 1994-1996
  • Professor, Economics and Public Affairs, Princeton University, 1985-1996
  • Visiting Professor of Economics, New York University, 1993
  • Visiting Scholar, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, 1989-1990
  • Visiting Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1989-1990
  • Visiting Scholar, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, 1987-1989
  • Associate Professor of Economics, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, 1983-1985
  • Assistant Professor of Economics, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, 1979-1983
Education:
  • PhD, Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1979
  • BA, summa cum laude, Economics, Harvard University, 1975
Other:
  • Born in Augusta, GA, Dec. 13, 1953
  • He is married and has two children
  • He delivered four lectures on the Federal Reserve at the George Washington University School of Business for Professor Tim Fort’s class “The Federal Reserve and Its Role in Today’s Economy,” 2012
Quoted in:
Pro & Con Quotes: Should the United States Return to a Gold Standard?