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Former Fed Chair Bernanke ’75 Wins Nobel Prize in Economics

Ben S. Bernanke ’75 delivered Harvard College's Class Day address in 2008.
Ben S. Bernanke ’75 delivered Harvard College's Class Day address in 2008. By Sarah M Roberts
By Rahem D. Hamid, Crimson Staff Writer

Former Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve Ben S. Bernanke ’75 was one of three recipients of the Nobel Prize in Economics Monday morning.

He becomes the 32nd Nobel laureate to have graduated from Harvard College and the second College alum awarded a Nobel Prize in 2022, after Carolyn R. Bertozzi ’88 received the award for her work in chemistry last week.

With Bernanke’s award, Harvard has now seen 36 of its current and former instructors or alumni take home the prize in economics. Harvard-affiliated winners account for roughly 40 percent of the 92 total laureates in economic sciences since the category was added in 1968.

Bernanke shares the prize with Douglas W. Diamond, a professor at the University of Chicago, and Philip H. Dybvig, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, “for research on banks and financial crises.”

“The laureates’ insights have improved our ability to avoid both serious crises and expensive bailouts,” Tore Ellingsen, Chair of the Committee for the Prize in Economic Sciences, said in a Nobel Committee press release.

In a press conference, Bernanke said the prize was “completely unexpected.”

“My wife and I shut off our cell phones when we went to bed last night,” he said. “It was our daughter in Chicago who was finally contacted, and called us on the landline to inform us that this had happened.”

After graduating from the College summa cum laude and as a member of academic honor society Phi Beta Kappa, the former Winthrop House resident attended MIT for his Ph.D. before teaching at Stanford, MIT, NYU, and Princeton, where he chaired the economics department for six years.

He chaired the Council of Economic Advisors under U.S. President George W. Bush, before serving two terms as Chairman of the Federal Reserve — a role he held throughout the financial crisis of 2007-2008.

Bernanke returned to Cambridge to deliver the 2008 Class Day address and briefly appeared in the 2016 Winthrop House Housing Day video, in which he declared that “Winthrop House is money in the bank.”

—Staff writer Rahem D. Hamid can be reached at rahem.hamid@thecrimson.com.

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