Will Ben Bernanke and Timothy Geithner have a battle of the books?

Former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke will publish a memoir of the financial crisis.
(Michelle Siu / AP)

If there’s one thing Federal Reserve chairmen are sensitive to, it’s timing. So when W.W. Norton chose this week to announce a forthcoming book by former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, which it dubs “the ultimate insider’s memoir of the global financial crisis of 2007-2009,” it could hardly have been a coincidence.

That’s because Tuesday is the official publication date of former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s book, “Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises,” a 592-page hardcover coming from Crown. In a blurb for it, Warren Buffett writes, “Tim’s book will forever be the definitive work on what causes financial panics and what must be done to stem them when they occur.”

Their tenures coincided during the most challenging financial period in America’s history since the Great Depression. Geithner served as Treasury secretary from 2009 to 2013. Bernanke was chairman of the Federal Reserve from 2006 to 2014.


The as-yet-untitled book by Bernanke isn’t due to hit shelves until 2015. But now readers know it’s coming if they’re thinking of picking up Geithner’s book.

Bernanke’s memoir will, he says in the release, “be both personal and frank,” detail “the roles played by leading personalities ... from Congress to the media to Wall Street, describing how and why key decisions were made,” and “recount what it felt like to be in the middle of these historic events.”

There is a clear sense of competition with other memoirs of the financial crisis. Bernanke promises his book “will have a broader scope than anything previously written on the crisis, will not be limited to events in the United States, and will discuss both the lead-in to the crisis and significant developments in the world economy since 2009.”

Of course, it’s not really a competition. Readers who came out on top of the financial crisis can afford to buy as many books about it as they like. Others, if interested, may wind up getting them from the library.