We wondered Tuesday morning why Ben Bernanke was offering a live-streamed lecture series to college students on the history of the Federal Reserve, and now we have at least one answer: He's reaching out to young people -- the young people who conveniently make up a core constituency of notorious Fed-antagonist Ron Paul. Journalists noted with amusement that Bernanke offered up a full four slides of his webcast lecture at George Washington University to debunking arguments for the gold standard. "I'm guessing Bernanke a decade ago would not have spent quite so much time explaining the problems with the gold standard," wrote The New York Times' Binyamin Appelbaum on Twitter. But of course, the past ten years have seen the policy gain a powerful voice in Ron Paul, who is exceptionally popular among young people.
Among the arguments Bernanke made Tuesday: the gold standard requires us to waste resources by mining gold in Africa and shipping it here, it connects nations' currencies which exposes us to monetary policy in other countries, and it leads to deflation. Bernanke spoke on a lot of topics, but he quickly got a question at the end of the lecture from a student on, you guessed it, the gold standard, and particularly why we've returned to debating the policy. "I understand the impulse but I think that if you look at actual history you'll see that the gold standard didn't work that well and it worked particularly poorly after World War I," Bernanke answered.
We like Appelbaum's jokey paraphrase of the lecture: "Summary of last 5 minutes: Listen, kids, I know you like this Ron Paul fellow, but there's something you should know..." As we wrote this morning, Bernanke's lecture series and new efforts to tweet and publicize the Fed's actions all seem like pushback strategy agaisnt GOP nominees who have cast him as a villain. And no GOPer targets the Fed more than good old "end the Fed" Ron Paul.