In a course titled “Reflections on the Federal Reserve and Its Place in Today’s Economy”, Ben Bernanke gave four lectures to students at George Washington University focusing on the Federal Reserve (the Fed) as part of his campaign to demystify the nation’s central bank. All of these lectures can be viewed on the Fed‘s website.

Related articles:

USTREAM: The Federal Reserve Channel

The Federal Reserve: “The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis: Chairman Bernanke’s College Lecture Series


In his first lecture, Bernanke discusses the history of central banking and the financial panics of the 19th and early 20th centuries which led to the creation of the Fed in 1913. He summarizes the Fed’s mission, as well as the bank’s experiences (both successful and unsuccessful) in maintaining macroeconomic and financial stability.

Bernanke’s second lecture reviews developments in central banks after World War II. He discusses the Fed’s early challenges, including the role of monetary policy in creating the Great Inflation, and how improved monetary policy after 1979 led to the Great Moderation. His second lecture ends with a focus on the origins of the recent financial crisis.

The third lecture describes the recent financial crisis, including its national and global implications. Bernanke emphasizes the Fed’s position as a lender-of-last-resort and gives reason for its policy responses, including the 2008 financial bailout. He then compares the recent financial crisis to the Great Depression, and lauds the Fed for averting much worse possible outcomes this time around.

In his final lecture, Bernanke assesses the aftermath of the recent financial crisis. He reviews the Fed’s monetary policy responses to the recession, the sluggish recovery and the Fed’s continuing effort to strengthen the banking system. He concludes his lectures by repeating how the Fed used the principal tools employed by all central banks during the recent financial crisis, and remains hopeful that the Fed will be able to mitigate the risk of financial crises in the future.

first tuesday take: Education concerning the nation’s institutions enlightens thinking. Here, you are dealing with the sole source of the dollars you earn, borrow and spend. Without a central bank (which is the Fed for much of the world) there is no medium of exchange. And without that currency, barter and its debilitating inefficiencies savage an economy, as experienced by North Korea and Iran in their attempts at international transactions.

The concept of centralized banking has always been controversial. For critics of the Fed, these videos will elucidate the bank’s purpose, as well as its recent efforts to boost economic growth.

Since the Fed is the exclusive provider of U.S. dollars, it is inherently linked to the nation’s overall economic and financial wellbeing. For anyone affiliated with real estate, it is essential to have a thorough understanding of the Fed’s structure and execution of corrective functions. The transparent nature of the Fed illuminates its purpose and methods, and Bernanke’s lectures are helpful in furthering this transparency.

A comprehensive education in economics is essential for real estate agents and brokers, and attending college is not the only way to obtain this education. Bernanke’s lectures provide an excellent starter course by discussing both the fundamental worldwide history of central banking and the powers specific to our Fed. The Fed is the single government agency that issues dollars, completes transactions with banks and bank-like institutions and maintains the bond market.

Thus, for real estate professionals looking to be more informed regarding the dollar as the most powerful worldwide medium of exchange, first tuesday encourages the viewing of Bernanke’s lectures on the Fed. You will be pleased you watched, regardless of your convictions before viewing.

Re: “Ben Bernanke in new effort to demystify Fed” from CBS News

Related articles:

The lender of last resort: understanding the function and methods of the Federal Reserve

The Fed’s plan of attack

The Fed’s monetary policy, straight from the horse’s mouth

Suspect behavior: why and how the Fed creates a recession