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10/31/2005
01:53 PM
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2006 A.G.: After Greenspan

Ben Bernanke, whom President Bush nominated last week to replace Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, has made the case that how information technology gets put to use is every bit as important as whether it gets bought.

Greenspan spoke often about the important role IT has played in improving worker productivity, so Bernanke's views on the topic are significant. In a speech at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in February, he made the case that just looking at how much companies invest in software and hardware isn't enough, since spending for related research and development, training, and organizational redesign is both vital and costly.

Bernanke, an economist who spent his career in academia until joining the Federal Reserve Board three years ago, took a practical view of what's needed to make IT work. The time it takes to learn to use IT well might partly explain the lag in the economy between when IT spending rises and productivity gains appear, he said. And he suggested there's more value for U.S. companies to wring from IT. Said Bernanke, "The productivity optimists have a good case."

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