Let me add my enthusiastic endorsement of the choice of Ben Bernanke to replace Alan Greenspan for chair of the Federal Reserve Board to the positive support earlier expressed at Marginal Revolution, the Big Picture, New Economist, Economist’s View, and Angry Bear.
I have developed tremendous respect for Bernanke over the years. His academic work on the role of Federal Reserve policy in the Great Depression has been central in shaping the modern consensus. His work on measuring the contributions to postwar economic fluctuations of what the Fed does has likewise proven central for much of the macroeconomic research on this topic over the last twenty years. I have taught using both his macroeconomic textbook, which does an unusually nice job of integrating the determinants of saving and investment decisions into macroeconomic analysis, as well as his principles textbook, which does a superb job of communicating the essence of how markets work in a variety of settings.
He absolutely has a first-rate mind, just as sharp as they come. And he’ll need all the gray matter that can be mustered in his new job, I fear, to figure out how to respond to simultaneous threats of recession, inflation, global imbalances, and systemic financial risk.
I’ve disagreed with Bernanke on a number of specific issues over the years. Some of those arguments I admit that he won, and some I still view as unresolved. I certainly reserve the pundit’s prerogative to start criticizing whatever he does with monetary policy the day he takes charge, nay, even before he assumes the office, I shall feel free to kvetch. But I will be doing so from a position of respect for the new office holder.