A Three Piece Portrait of Ben Bernanke

I am writing this post to follow up on a post from last spring, “Anecdotes at the Federal Reserve,” not–however much it may seem so–as an exercise in stalking Ben Bernanke. “Anecdotes at the Federal Reserve” examined Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting minutes to evaluate the use of anecdotal evidence in response to the 2008 financial crisis. Those minutes shed light on the  the personalities and the institutional dynamics behind Fed policies. In that vein, I have three little snippets about the man who was Chair of the Federal Reserve in 2008 and the environment he worked in.

1) This BusinessInsider article probes the intersection of Bernanke’s personal economic and philosophical beliefs and his Chairmanship. A choice passage:

Bernanke is bothered by attacks that seem to be little more than smears; conversely, he is buoyed when strangers stop him in airports to offer an encouraging word. Rising to his own defense, he told me, “I would argue that everything we have done has been in the interest of the American public and, broadly, of the global economy. A lot of people get that.” (Privately, Bernanke and Timothy Geithner, the treasury secretary, have shared mutual wonder that the financial rescue, which they consider a success, has been so widely panned. Geithner told me that recently, when he informed Bernanke that yet another officeholder had asked for each of their resignations, Bernanke wryly quipped, “Well, that’s a step up from being accused of treason.”)

The article is based on excerpts from a longer Atlantic magazine profile of Bernanke. The BusinessInsider article is brief, but the Atlantic profile is definitely worth the time to read.

2) At the very end of October, it came to light that Ben Bernanke sent emails under the alias “Edward Quince” during the 2008 financial crisis. Some pretty important ones, too. Notably, Ed Quince was involved in high level correspondence about AIG. Nobody really knows why.

3) My personal favorite: an interview by Marketplace’s Kai Rysdall with the Federal Reserve’s on-site barber, Lenny Gilleo, who gave Chairman Bernanke a touchup every three weeks. Surprising tidbit: you have to get a reference to make an appointment with this guy.

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