In a year dominated by talk of bailouts and bonuses, the credit crunch and stimulus cash, the man who controls the nation’s money supply is now the poster boy for 2009.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, 56, was named Time magazine’s man of the year, the annual honor given to the person (or people) who most influence or embody global events.
“The overriding story of 2009 was the economy — the lousiness of it, and the fact that it wasn’t far lousier,” the magazine said Wednesday in its current cover story. “He helped oversee the financial stress tests that finally calmed the markets, while launching a groundbreaking public relations campaign to demystify the Fed.”
Bernanke, a former professor at Princeton University and a scholar of the Great Depression, presided over an infusion of cash into the nation’s banks, a controversial policy he and others have argued prevented a far more calamitous downturn.
“I’m not happy with where we are, but it’s a lot better than where we could be,” he told the magazine.
First appointed by President George W. Bush in 2005, Bernanke succeeded the long-serving Alan Greenspan. President Barack Obama re-appointed him this year, drawing criticism from those on the left and right who said the Fed had become too powerful.
Other finalists edged out for the Time honor were: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, the Chinese worker, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Jamaican Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt and Obama.