Did Ben’s Torah lessons help to save the world?
the same route as two illustrious Jewish Nobel prize winners Paul Samuelson (best known for his best-selling economics textbook) and Robert Solow. Samuelson had found Harvard an unwelcoming place for a Jewish academic who wanted to take economics in a fresh mathematics-based direction.
MIT, with its clinical engineering and scientific focus, proved a much friendlier environment for Jews and for bringing mathematical discipline to what had previously been regarded as more of a humanities subject. At MIT, Bernanke was to meet one of the world’s most respected economists Stan Fischer, who went on to serve as chief economist at the International Monetary Fund and governor of the Bank of Israel and who is now back in Washington as deputy chairman of the Federal Reserve.
Fischer introduced Bernanke to the work of Chicago-based economists Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz and their classic work, A Monetary History of the United States 1867-1960. Until then, Bernanke, like most economists, regarded Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith’s The Great Crash of 1929 as the authoritative work on the events of the 1930s and how speculation and greed on Wall Street caused the US to sink into depression. Friedman, using mathematics and history, presented a different version of events.
In his view, history showed that it was the contraction of the money supply — the amount of money circulating in the economy — which caused the mass unemployment and hardship of America’s Great Depression. It was a thesis Bernanke developed further in his own Daring: Ben Bernanke realised that ailing economies needed a cash injection