WASHINGTON, D. C.  20551
Ben S. Bernanke
July 1, 2009

Dear Fellow American:

I am writing to ask for your cooperation in another important Federal Reserve research project related to a survey in which you participated about two years ago regarding consumer finances. At that time, you very generously agreed to share your time and information, and we had no thought of asking you to do more. Since then, however, we have seen substantial problems in the economy that have affected virtually everyone. You can help us understand those effects more clearly by participating in a much shorter second round of the survey.

It may seem that everything that needs to be known about recent economic changes is already known. Certainly, we do have excellent data on the overall state of the economy. But, we would benefit from a more detailed understanding of what has happened across the broad range of types of households. For that, we need to look directly at changes for individual households. Because only people for whom we have baseline information can be helpful, there is no possibility of substituting another household for yours, which is why your help is so essential.

Over the next few months, a specially trained interviewer from NORC, a social science research organization at the University of Chicago acting on our behalf, will attempt to contact you to request an appointment for an interview. Participation in the survey is voluntary, but I urge you to take part. Your answers are critical to making our survey data representative and useful.

I assure you that we give the highest priority to guarding the privacy of survey participants and the confidentiality of their answers. We will use the answers provided by participants only for statistical purposes. Neither I nor anyone else at the Federal Reserve is ever allowed to know your name. At NORC, your name is used only as a means of locating you for the interview. At the conclusion of the project, NORC will destroy all name and address data. The interviewer who contacts you can tell you more about the ways in which your answers will be used and the stringent methods used to protect your privacy.

You may be interested in reviewing some key results of the 2007 survey in which you participated. Those results were published in the Federal Reserve Bulletin, available on the Federal Reserve's website at Thank you in advance for your time. I appreciate your assistance with our efforts.

Signature of Ben Bernanke

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