Document Type


First Faculty Advisor

Holtzman, Richard


Rhetoric, Grounded Theory, Federal Reserve System, Ben Bernanke


Bryant University


The objective of this Capstone project is to determine how Ben Bernanke used rhetoric during his tenure as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System from 2006 to 2013. The scope is limited to testimony delivered as opening statements to the Federal Reserve’s semi-annual Monetary Policy Report to Congress and his prepared testimony during his Senate confirmation hearing. The research will attempt determine how Bernanke used rhetoric while testifying before congress, in particular how that rhetoric changes over the course of his tenure. While there is a substantial amount of research on the use of the rhetoric by the President, there is little academic research on its use by the Chair of the Federal Reserve, thus the purpose of this Capstone is to expand academic research on this topic because it will be growing in importance as the Federal Reserve continues to communicate more openly with the outside world than it had in the past. “Fed speak,” as it is referred to in the media, is closely followed by economists and financial analysts, but the lack of academic research is likely due to the highly secretive nature of the Federal Reserve for much of its history. As the Chair of the Federal Reserve explains more of its actions to the outside world, it will be more important to generate academic research as the differences in the use of Rhetoric by the Chair of the Federal Reserve grows more similar to its use by the President. The research methodology used was grounded theory, first developed by Glaser & Strauss in 1967. Grounded theory, a qualitative research method, used a method known as coding to “develop an inductively derived grounded theory about a phenomenon” (Stauss & Corbin, 1990, p. 24). One of the key principles of grounded theory is to develop a theory as the research is conducted rather than using the research to develop a theory that has already been created. A computer program, MAXQDA 11, was utilized to facilitate a more efficient research process. The completion of this research will contribute to a better understanding of Federal Reserve rhetoric as it is becoming a more prominent component of economy of the United Sates.