In Fed We Trust: Ben Bernanke's War on the Great Panic

In This Review

In Fed We Trust: Ben Bernanke's War on the Great Panic
By David Wessel
Crown Business, 2009
336 pp. $26.99
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Wessel, a Wall Street Journal economics editor, provides a lucid and informed account of the effects of the U.S. Federal Reserve's actions -- from the latter part of the Greenspan era through mid-2009 -- on the recent financial and economic crisis. The book addresses what some have argued was the Fed's role in creating the crisis, through both its sins of commission (maintaining an easy monetary policy into 2004) and its sins of omission (not regulating mortgage lending during the housing boom or seriously warning politicians and the public about its risks). Wessel also addresses the bold and unorthodox actions that the Fed took under Chair Ben Bernanke to deal with the crisis as it unfolded. Although In Fed We Trust focuses mainly on the United States, it also covers the cooperation of other central banks and the uncooperative role of the British government in the last-minute attempt to salvage Lehman Brothers -- which many observers regard as a grave fumble that turned an already serious problem into a near catastrophe. All this makes for a gripping tale.