Bernanke's Test

Business Book Roundtable

May 11, 2009: 6:00 PM - 9:30 PM

Johan Van Overtveldt Presents: Bernanke's Test:Ben Bernanke, Alan Greenspan, and the Drama of the Central Banker This is an in-depth look at Ben Bernanke and how his professional and academic careers have shaped his handling of the current economic firestorm, as well as a provocative analysis of the increasingly criticized tenure of Bernanke’s immediate predecessor, Alan Greenspan. Van Overtveldt discusses how Greenspan single-handedly transformed the role of central banker from obscure bureaucrat to geopolitical megastar, all while guiding the U.S. to new heights of prosperity. However, Greenspan’s decisions bear a significant responsibility for the present worldwide economic crisis—a crisis that Bernanke has a significant responsibility for solving. Van Overtveldt provides historical context for his analysis with looks at other former Fed chairmen such as Benjamin Strong, William McChesney Martin, Arthur Burns, and especially Greenspan's predecessor, Paul Volcker, who has returned to prominence as a top adviser to Barack Obama. Most of all, he examines the work and career of Ben Bernanke—the central banker now being tested by the worst economic crisis in 80 years. Bernanke’s Test is an informed, straightforward, and compelling first look at one of the biggest tests our economic system has ever faced.


The University of Chicago Gleacher Center,
Room 100
450 North Cityfront Plaza,
Chicago, Illinois

Event Details

Review: Bernanke's Test "This book deals with Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke and his legendary predecessor, Alan Greenspan, and how their professional histories and styles of leadership are shaping the worst economic crisis in generations. This book takes an in-depth look at Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke, now under a sharp spotlight due to the global economic crisis, and it could not be more timely. The professional lives of both Bernanke and Greenspan are thoroughly explored, showing how their careers have culminated in the policies and styles of leadership they exhibited in their roles as Fed chair. The two men’s Fed tenures—for Greenspan, the ticket to unprecedented success and global celebrity, and for the less-heralded Bernanke, the culmination of his quieter career as an academic economist—are analyzed side by side. Johan Van Overtveldt also furnishes a brief history of the U.S. Federal Reserve, explaining how it was created and how it functioned throughout the 20th century. He shows how past Fed policies are now being viewed in a wholly different light, as are earlier Fed chairs like Benjamin Strong, William McChesney Martin, Arthur Burns, and Greenspan’s predecessor, Paul Volcker, newly returned to prominence as an advisor to President Barack Obama. The series of events leading up to today’s full-blown worldwide financial crisis are documented every step of the way throughout late 2008—all while being compared and contrasted with previous economic booms, bubbles, and crashes. The consensus on Greenspan’s performance as Fed chair used to be extremely positive, but more and more it’s been called into question. Now, the events of 2008 have thrust Bernanke into the eye of a global economic storm created largely on his predecessor’s watch. His leadership will be a decisive factor in how the U.S. economy weathers this crisis, and hisdecisions will have an impact felt around the world. This is Bernanke’s test. Here at last is a book about the US Federal Reserve that is neither impossibly technical nor populist. The author is obviously extremely familiar with the American financial and political scene. ...Johan Van Overtveldt is more enlightening about Ben Bernanke’s predecessors as chairman than Bernanke himself, who is not long into his tenure. He makes it clear the big reduction in US inflation took place under Alan Greenspan’s predecessor, Paul Volcker, a Democrat and no monetarist, but who used monetarist rhetoric in 1979-82 to launch a successful blitz on inflationary expectations. Greenspan was at one time regarded as a miracle worker. ...More recently, the pendulum has swung to the other extreme and he has become a scapegoat for all the world’s troubles. Van Overtveldt steers a healthy middle course. He concedes that the former Fed chairman wrongly neglected regulation and supervision. But he defends the low interest rates in the decade..." Samuel Brittan, Financial Times, February 22, 2009


Event Fee: $15.00


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Deadline: 5/11/2009


6:00 PM-6:30 PM: Registration and Buffet Hors d'oeuvres, Cash Bar

6:30 PM-8:30 PM: Author's Presentation and Q&A

8:30 PM-9:30 PM: Continue Discussion and Book Signing

Speaker Profiles

Johan Van Overtveldt, Ph.D. (Speaker)
Director, VKW Metena, Belgium-based think tank: VKW Metena

Johan Van Overtveldt, PhD, is the director of the Belgium-based think tank VKW Metena, which works on a breadth of economics-related issues. Formerly editor in chief of the Belgian newsmagazine Trends, he has written several books in Dutch on economics-related issues and contributes frequently to the Wall Street Journal Europe. His landmark book The Chicago School has just been released in paperback.


Mary Kupjack 
Business Book Roundtable

Other Information

Books will be abailable at the event and in the Gleacher Bookstore. Author available to sign books at the event.