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SmartChat: Dr. Ben Bernanke

April 24, 2015

Recently, one of the most powerful men in the country, Dr. Benjamin Bernanke, joined us for a video conference to talk about the importance of economics and public policy in the modern world. Most notably, Dr. Bernanke served as Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve from 2006 to 2014. Dr. Bernanke, however, began his journey right here in South Carolina. He was raised in the small town of Dillon before heading off to Harvard University to begin his adventure into the world of economics.  
    
Dr. Bernanke graduated from Harvard in 1975 with a Master’s degree in economics, then, in 1979, he earned his PhD in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After graduating from college, Dr. Bernanke went on to teach at the Stanford School of Business and then at Princeton University. Having established himself as a respected academic and an expert in economic theory, he was appointed to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve in 2002 by President George W. Bush.  After the resignation of Alan Greenspan, who served as Chairman of the Federal Reserve since he was appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1987, Dr. Bernanke was appointed Chairman by President Bush in 2006 and then reappointed by President Obama in 2010. Dr. Bernanke served as Chairman of the Federal Reserve during the worst economic recession the United States has faced since the Great Depression. Although he came into his position during difficult times, he was able to lift the economy and push it into the upward spiral of growth that it is in today.  
    
During the SmartChat, Dr. Bernanke discussed some of the most pressing topics of modern economics with a group of students here at the Governor’s School. On an international scope, we talked about the repercussions of the economic collapse of Greece and how it could lead to the collapse of other countries in the Euro zone, the exchange and trading relationship between the United States and China, and how the drop in the value of the Euro will ultimately make it harder for US companies to compete with their European counterparts. Our discussion also made its way to domestic policies like the historical connection between the causes of the Great Depression of 1929 and the Great Recession of 2008, the use of expansionary monetary policy to stimulate economic growth by lowering interest rates and increasing the supply of money in the economy, and the actual importance of the US national debt and how it is actually beneficial to economic growth.
    
Having lived a very successful life, Dr. Bernanke claims only one thing led him to where he is today. He only ever did what he loved and worked hard to get what he wanted. His journey from a small rural town in South Carolina to being one of the country’s greatest leaders in the field of economics and public policy has resulted from following his nose into the future. Dr. Bernanke serves as an inspiration to what the Governor’s School is all about.

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