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Have Faith in Innovation, Fed Chairman Tells Graduates

Published on May 20, 2013
by John Paczkowski

Bernanke_matrixFederal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke had some optimistic words for the class of 2013 this past weekend, and they had far more to do with technology than with monetary policy.

During a commencement address at Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington, Mass., Bernanke advised graduates not to worry too much about current economic headwinds or concerns that the current information technology revolution won’t have the same transformative effect on the economy that previous revolutions have.

“As trade and globalization increase the size of the potential market for new products, the possible economic rewards for being first with an innovative product or process are growing rapidly,” Bernanke said. “Both humanity’s capacity to innovate and the incentives to innovate are greater today than at any other time in history.”

And those who fail to recognize that, those who argue that our latest technological revolution in computers and IT will not transform our lives as dramatically as, say, the modern industrial era — well, according to Bernanke, they’re perhaps a little short-sighted. “I’m sure that I can’t imagine all of the possibilities,” Bernanke said. “But historians of science have commented on our collective tendency to overestimate the short-term effects of new technologies while underestimating their longer-term potential.”

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