On the money

Money expert says $10 bill should stay the same and a woman should go on the $20 bill instead

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Until he stepped down last year, Ben Bernanke spent eight years as the chairman of the Federal Reserve. That means for nearly a decade, all he did was think about money. Money. Money. Money. Maybe some money policy now and again. And then more money. So, naturally, when he says something about money, people pay attention. And he said something on his blog this week about the Treasury Department’s decision to have Alexander Hamilton joined by a woman on the $10 bill. “I must admit I was appalled to hear of Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s decision last week to demote Alexander Hamilton from his featured position on the ten dollar bill,” Bernanke wrote on his blog. The former Fed chief went on to laud Hamilton, the nation’s first Treasury Secretary and the founder of the Bank of New York, for all he did to put America’s finances on sound footing and lay the groundwork for the modern economy. For those still unconvinced, his argument for removing Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill is equally, if not more, compelling. “Hamilton’s demotion is intended to make room to honor a deserving woman on the face of our currency. That’s a fine idea,” Bernanke writes, “but it shouldn’t come at Hamilton’s expense. As many have pointed out, a better solution is available: Replace Andrew Jackson, a man of many unattractive qualities and a poor president, on the twenty dollar bill. Given his views on central banking, Jackson would probably be fine with having his image dropped from a Federal Reserve note,” Bernanke declared. We’ll take Bernanke’s word for it that Jackson’s views on central banking are disqualifying, and the debate over who goes on what money will no doubt continue for probably the next five years.

Read the full essay on Ben Bernanke’s Brookings Institute Blog.

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