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What Harvard's Class of 2008 Learned From Their Graduation Speaker

What Harvard's Class of 2008 Learned From Their Graduation Speaker


What does it say about the state of our economy when during his stint as a graduation speaker, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve realizes he has successfully delivered a downer speech to an eager graduating class? Ben Bernanke turned what is usually a more lighthearted and motivational speech into a "dry economics speech," but he couldn't help himself given the current economy and what most of the crowd (or at least the parents) had on their minds when he approached the podium. Find out what Harvard's new alumni learned on their graduation day when you read more.

According to The New York Times Bernanke mostly talked about the evolution of Fed policy making and their most stressful issue at present, inflation, saying: "If people expect an increase in inflation to be temporary and do not build it into their longer-term plans for setting wages and prices, then the inflation created by a shock to oil prices will tend to fade relatively quickly.”

As a Harvard alumni, the Chairman may have elected to get sentimental with the crowd and discuss memories from his time as an undergrad at the Ivy university, but instead he brought up the past in another light. In reviewing the unsavory fact that economic inequality has increased considerably in the last 30 years, he suggested "the best method to improve economic opportunities for American was to focus on raising the level of and access to education."

In a well thought out follow-up to that seemingly unremarkable statement, Bernanke gave this explanation.

As we think about improving education and skills, we should also look beyond the traditional K-12 and 4-year-college system — as important as it is — to recognize that education should be lifelong and can come in many forms. Early childhood education, community colleges, vocational schools, on-the-job training, online courses, adult education — all of these are vehicles of demonstrated value in increasing skills and lifetime earning power.”

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