Bernanke’s 2004 Lecture at W&L Back in the News

USA Today has a story about the relationship between the Great Depression and today’s economic crisis that refers to a 2004 lecture at Washington and Lee by Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve. That lecture was part of the H. Parker Willis Lecture Series, which was instituted by John M. Gunn ’45, emeritus professor of economics at W&L, was named to honor the first dean of the School of Commerce at W&L, H. Parker Willis. The title of Bernanke’s lecture was “Money, Gold, and the Great Depression.” Bernanke was a Federal Reserve Board Governor at the time of the speech, which received wide coverage.

USA Today cites this Bernanke quote from the W&L lecture:

“The number of people with personal memory of the Great Depression is fast shrinking with the years. However, although the Depression was long ago … its influence is still very much with us.”

Also in his remarks, Bernanke said the Fed was not up to the task of managing the gold standard:

“Unfortunately, the fledgling Federal Reserve, with its decentralized structure and its inexperienced and domestically focused leadership, did not prove up to the task of managing the international gold standard, a task that lingering hatreds and disputes from the war would have made difficult for even the most-sophisticated institution.”

Bernanke’s presentation was the third Willis Lecture. The seventh, held this past March, was presented by another member of the board of governors of the Federal Reserve, Frederic S. Mishkin.

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