Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke’s term at the head of the U.S. central bank is up in January, and the search is on at the White House to find his replacement. Though he will be remembered as a soft-spoken, unimposing, professorial figure, the Fed head has definitely had his moments.
Bernanke took over the helm of the Fed in 2006. Only two years into his term, he presided over the worst financial crisis and ensuing recession in 80 years, and was forced to rely on experimental monetary policies that had never been tried before in an attempt to bring the American economy back to life.
Luckily, Bernanke was relatively well-equipped to handle the situation, and in recent years has taken extraordinary action to stabilise markets and the economy.
Here are 16 times when Ben Bernanke was a total badass.
1. Young Ben Bernanke skipped the first grade.
2. He won the South Carolina state spelling bee at age 11.
3. And he also taught himself calculus in high school.
4. Check out this Harvard yearbook photo, which really speaks for itself.
5. In academia, Bernanke was a major pioneer in understanding the causes of the Great Depression, which made him perfectly suited for the job of saving the U.S. economy years later.
6. In 1999, Professor Bernanke explained to the Bank of Japan what it was doing wrong … and the BoJ finally took his advice 14 years later, in 2013.
7. As Fed chief, in response to the financial crisis and recession of 2008, Bernanke took the federal funds target rate to the zero lower bound, a place it had never been before.
St. Louis Fed
8. But that wasn’t enough, so Bernanke launched QE1, an unproven bond-buying program that helped the economy avoid a more severe contraction.
9. He was Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in 2009.
10. We also learned from Time that Bernanke suits himself at Jos. A. Bank.
11. And since getting serious love on magazine covers is cool, here’s another one.
12. Bernanke even had a highway interchange named after him.
13. The Fed chairman put Jackson Hole on the map in 2010, signaling a historic policy shift to come a few months later.
14. Then, in 2013, he skipped Jackson Hole, dismissing it as just another conference put on by a regional Fed bank.
15. In 2011, Bernanke explained gold to Ron Paul.
16. And in June 2013, Bernanke came out guns blazing, knowing his message about reducing QE would sink markets, but choosing to stick to it anyway.
BONUS: Today, Bernanke did exactly the opposite of what everyone expected and refrained from tapering back quantitative easing.
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