Bernanke at Brookings: ‘Rescuer-in-Chief’ in Residence

Photograph by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Ben S. Bernanke, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 16, 2014.

Ben Bernanke reigned for two terms as chairman of the Federal Reserve and is widely credited for steering the American economy through its worst crisis since the Great Depression, of which he is a student.

Bernanke has a new forum now: The Brookings Institution, which announced today that Bernanke will serve as a distinguished fellow in residence at its new Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy.

He’d said, when asked at one of his last engagements with the press if he would be returning to his native South Carolina, where an interchange on Interstate 95 at hometown Dillon is named for the Harvard grad and former Princeton professor, that he’d be hanging around Washington for a while. He explained that much of his family had settled in North Carolina now, but hadn’t specified post-Fed plans.

And so here he is:

Brookings today welcomes Bernanke as the `rescuer-in-chief.’

“As Glenn Hutchins, vice chair of the Brookings board, put it at the recent Hutchins Center inaugural event: “Despite the massive deleveraging of the last few years, we are still deeply in debt to Ben Bernanke,” the center notes at its blog, “Up Front.”

“In the past few years, Mr. Bernanke has been presiding over an historic experiment in monetary policy – more than five years of zero interest rates (so far) and trillions of dollars in bond-buying, a controversial approach aimed at restoring growth to the American economy,” center director David Wessel writes for Brookings.

“Ben Bernanke won’t have to sit through any more meetings of the Federal Open Market Committee or deliver the Fed’s semi-annual testimony to an occasionally hostile Congress or listen to complaints from emerging-market central bankers when central bankers gather in Basel, Switzerland. He won’t have to check the computer screen to see what’s been happening in Asian markets when he gets up every morning. He will, instead, have time to reflect on what just happened.

Bernanke’s own recent remarks at the center are noted as well:

“I was kind of like if you’re in a car wreck. You’re mostly involved in trying to avoid going off the bridge. And then later on you say, ‘Oh, my God.”’

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