Person of the Year

Time Picks Bernanke

Ben Shalom Bernanke, head of the Federal Reserve, is Time's Person of the Year for 2009 because "he is the most important player guiding the world's most important economy." Much of Time's profile focuses on how Bernanke's roots as an academic have influenced recent economic policy. As a Depression buff driven by his belief that the Fed failed to rev the economy by freely lending after the crash of 1929, Bernanke broke new ground this year by dropping interest rates to zero for the first time; reaching out globally to coordinate a six-nation rate cut to calm markets; pursuing new credit channels to help firms meet their payrolls; injecting cash into the battered housing market; and bailing out financial companies. As Time put it, "none of this was pretty," but on the other hand, "that's what happens when leaders actually try to preserve the financial system. The central bankers of the 1930s avoided moral hazard but betrayed the world." And Time makes a pretty good case that Bernanke hasn't.