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Archive for October, 2005

Ben Bernanke nominated to replace Greenspan

Posted by erweinstein on October 24, 2005

President Bush has nominated Ben Bernanke to replace Alan Greenspan as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Bernanke is the Chairman of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers and a former member of the Fed Board of Governors. He is considered to be one of America’s foremost monetary theorists, surpassed only by Greenspan and Greenspan’s predecessor Paul Volcker.

After the farce that is the Harriet Miers nomination, Americans of all political stripes should be breathing a collective sigh of relief. While his personal party affiliation is Republican (as was Greenspan’s before his nomination to the Fed), Bernanke is an academic economist, not a political operator, and it is highly unlikely that he would risk the nation’s economic stability for short-term political gain. Bernanke also has stronger credentials in matters of monetary policy than the others rumored to be on the president’s list to succeed Greenspan. For example, R. Glenn Hubbard, a Columbia professor and former Council of Economic Advisers Chairman, is an expert in the field of corporate finance, but he is less distinguished in monetary matters than Bernanke. If confirmed, Bernanke is likely to broadly continue Greenspan’s policy choices. Two important differences, which can be inferred from his time as a Fed governor, are that Bernanke possesses a greater understanding of the symbolic (i.e., media) importance of the Fed Chairman, and that he has a desire to increase the amount of debate and dissent during Fed meetings. As many people consider the Fed Chairman to be the second most powerful person in the US government, the ability to avoid media frenzy and the willingness to address criticism are qualities that should serve Bernanke very well.


UPDATE: This post, at its original home of, was cited by the Blogpulse Newswire.

Posted in Economics, Politics | 1 Comment »

Proof is the bottom line for everyone

Posted by erweinstein on October 5, 2005

I have a confession: I haven’t seen ‘Serenity’ yet. I’ll get to it, I promise. But at the University of Chicago, everyone is excited about the movie ‘Proof’. In case you haven’t heard, it’s about an earth-shatteringly brilliant but mentally ill University of Chicago mathematician (Anthony Hopkins), who in his final years is cared for by his daughter (Gweyneth Paltrow), herself a would-be mathematical theorist. The title has multiple meanings, but one of them refers to the discovery of what may or may not be an extremely important mathematical proof, completed by the Hopkins character during a period of mental clarity. On Tuesday night, I saw a special screening of ‘Proof’ at the campus cinema. The theater was packed to capacity, and the management actually delayed the start of the film by fifteen minutes so they could fill the last few seats. In addition to being set at the University of Chicago, the exterior shots were actually filmed in Chicago. Because it was the home-town crowd, there was some unnecessary but expected cheering upon viewing familiar locations or hearing some of the characters’ particularly Chicago-centric banter (including the obligatory potshots at Northwestern). However, the movie was excellent. In addition to agreeing with Roger Ebert’s four-star review, I have my own comments and analysis.

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Posted in Arts and literature, Mathematics, Religion, Science | 1 Comment »