Yesterday, CCC commented on TIME Magazine’s selection of Ben Bernanke as the publication’s Person of the Year for 2009. The selection is appropriate because of the influence of Bernanke’s actions on world events. TIME has indeed made some notorious selections in the past.
So what did Bernanke do? Here is a breakdown borrowed from TIME’s 2009 Person of the Year web feature:
- conjured up trillions of new dollars and blasted them into the economy
- engineered massive public rescues of failing private companies
- ratcheted down interest rates to zero; lent to mutual funds, hedge funds, foreign banks, investment banks, manufacturers, insurers and other borrowers who had never dreamed of receiving Fed cash
- jump-started stalled credit markets in everything from car loans to corporate paper
- revolutionized housing finance with a breathtaking shopping spree for mortgage bonds
- blew up the Fed’s balance sheet to three times its previous size
- generally transformed the staid arena of central banking into a stage for desperate improvisation
Influential? No doubt.
Did he save the world? Who knows?
Ignoring the temptation to get wrapped up in TIME’s sugary ode to a statist superman, one wonders whether Bernanke has just created a bailout bubble. Imagine that popping. It might even be worse than the doomsday we are pretending to avoid.
Noting the rise of the Tea Party movement, perhaps it would be more fitting of the recognition. Then again, maybe that will be next year’s story.