Shadow Fed? Bernanke’s move to Brookings solidifies think tank’s influence


(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Chairman Ben S. Bernanke joined the Brookings Institution as a distinguished fellow in residence today – just two days after leaving office as the head of the Federal Reserve and captain of the nation's economy.

The move isn't all that surprising. Bernanke's former second-in-command and close confidant, Don Kohn, has been in residence at the think tank since he stepped down from the Fed in 2010. Brookings is also home to Alice Rivlin, who in 1996 became the first female vice chair at the central bank. And it recently launched a new initiative known as the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy, with which Bernanke will be affiliated.

But the connection goes back even farther than that. Lael Brainard, who has been nominated to join the Fed's board of governors, was a vice president at Brookings. Legendary Fed Chairman William McChesney Martin – whose name graces one of the buildings at the Fed's headquarters – was on the Brookings Board of Trustees for nearly three decades. Two of the Fed's founding members, Frederic Delano and Paul Warburg, also served on Brookings' board.

"Brookings scholars have a well established reputation for contributing innovative ideas and trenchant analysis to economic and other public policy debates," Bernanke said in a statement today. "I welcome the opportunity to engage in that vibrant community through research and writing."

The announcement also means Bernanke will be able to continue nurturing the other passion he developed during his tenure at the Fed: cheering on the Washington Nationals.

Ylan Q. Mui is a financial reporter at The Washington Post covering the Federal Reserve and the economy.
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