Bernanke’s Test: Ben Bernanke, Alan Greenspan, and the Drama of the Central Banker by Johan Van Overtveldt
You walked into the living room last night and instantly, felt terror. Wide-eyed, you couldn’t bear to approach the television. You were suffering from remotophobia, that fearfully sick, averse feeling you get when you use your TV’s remote control. With one click, you turn on the national news and the ailing economy is all over the screen. You don’t need to be reminded; you’ve already watched your wallet take a walloping.
It’s easy to point fingers. There are scapegoats all over the place, but blaming isn’t fixing. So, how did this happen and what can be done about it? Read the new book, “Bernanke’s Test,” by Johan Van Overtveldt, and things may become clearer.
Created in 1913, the Federal Reserve System was developed in the hopes that it would, in part, reduce financial instability and perform as the “government’s banker.” Politically controversial, this was the third attempt to create a central American bank.
During the Depression, Van Overtveldt says, the Fed stood, “idly by, while the American financial system collapsed … ” American trust in the Fed was eroded and, in the end, the Treasury set monetary policy for the years after the Depression, until 1951. Inflation was “relatively under control,” from post-World War II until the mid-1960s.
By the time Alan Greenspan took over as Fed chairman in 1987, the inflation rate had risen to uncomfortable levels, the U.S. had seen exorbitant interest rates come and go, and budget deficits were skyrocketing. As for his tenure as Fed chairman, Greenspan has been both lauded as, “The greatest central banker who ever lived,” and condemned as the reason we’re in a recession today.
To be fair, says Van Overtveldt, “Greenspan’s tenure endured more than its share of serious crises,” including a stock market crash, the tragedy of September 11 and the Enron scandal. Still, it’s been said that if Greenspan had been more on-point, the sub-prime mortgage crisis wouldn’t have happened.
Into the fray stepped Ben Bernanke, in 2006. His going-on-three-year tenure has, like his predecessors, not been without controversy. Like those before him, he’s had supporters and detractors. He’s made some off-base predictions and will continue to be tested by the economy, as it is. But, will Ben Bernanke pass or fail the test of history?
Reading at times like a stiff college thesis and suffering sorely from the lack of a glossary, “Bernanke’s Test” is not one of those fun-filled books you can breeze through in a weekend. It’s cavernously steeped in politics and high-level finance and takes some serious thought to understand.
Having said that, this is a very important book. Author and think-tank director Van Overtveldt explains the Fed in a way that’s as lively and easy to understand as it can be. Though I was occasionally discombobulated, I did get caught up in the drama that Van Overtveldt promises in his subtitle.
Despite the possible difficulty understanding it fully, this is a book that all Americans–homeowners, anyone with a 401k and anyone who’s employed–should at least attempt to struggle through. “Bernanke’s Test” is a book you cannot pass up.
Up to No Good by Carl Weber
You can’t hide it. You laugh a lot more these days, and there are very few things that rattle you. The sun seems shinier, colors are more vibrant and the days fly by in minutes. Even your body feels different, more alive; even electric, maybe. Everybody knows what you’re thinking, maybe because you can’t wipe that silly grin off your face. You’re in love, and it shows.
But is that affection returned? In the new novel, “Up to No Good” by Carl Weber, love is often one-sided, and that can be really bad.
On the night before he married his beloved, Darnel Black got the shock of his life. His fiancé Keisha was naked in bed, and she wasn’t alone. She was with Darnel’s best friend, Omar, and they weren’t just napping.
Tearfully, Keisha swore that it was a one-time-only thing. Darnel might have believed her, if it wasn’t for Omar’s bombshell: it wasn’t Omar’s first time with Keisha, and there were others.
For Darnel’s father James, life was good. As a deacon at First Jamaica Ministries, in Queens, he was respected by the congregation’s men. As for the church’s women, successful, rich and handsome James could have any one of them he wanted–and did, every night of the week.
Then, James met Sandra. Beautiful and more than 20 years younger, Sandra was the first woman James ever really, truly, got to know. Reluctantly and amazingly, he realized he was falling in love.
The only problem was that Sandra was friends with Jamie, James’ busybody daughter. Loud, bossy and a daddy’s girl, Jamie tried to direct the lives of everyone around her. She wanted to keep her daddy away from predatory females, protect Darnel from Keisha and stop Louis, Jamie’s boyfriend, from cheating on her, although Louis swore he wasn’t creeping.
That made Louis angry. Why couldn’t Jamie believe him? He loved her, but he gave her an ultimatum: stop the jealousy and snooping, or get out. He hoped he’d never have to explain the fake ID and mysterious “business” trips.
As anger eats away at Darnel and as James falls deeper in love and Louis, deeper in trouble, Jamie tries to manipulate the men in her life. But, when someone’s up to no good, scheming only makes things worse.
Write this down: at about page 255, call your neighbors and tell them to ignore the screams they’re about to hear. Tell them not to worry, it’s just going to be you, finishing this latest, oh-no-he-didn’t, novel by Weber.
Nobody twists a plot like Weber, and this book’s story line practically spins. “Up to No Good” is the latest in a sort-of-series, dealing with the lives of the members of First Jamaica Ministries and its leader, Bishop T. K. Wilson. Although this book can stand alone, astute fans may recognize a few of the bit players in the novel.
If you’re up for an outrageous story, something that will keep you up all night, pick up “Up to No Good,” for your own bad self. This is a novel you’re going to love.
The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer, who has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.