Lanyards and polo shirts: Life after the Federal Reserve

February 25

(Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

There is life after the Federal Reserve.

Details of Ben S. Bernanke's career after leading the Federal Reserve and the U.S. economy through the worst downturn since the Great Depression are starting to emerge. Gone are the dark suits and ties that he wore while climbing the marbled staircase inside the Eccles Building. Instead, Bernanke has been spotted wearing polo shirts and the quintessential Washington accessory: a lanyard with an ID card identifying him as an employee of the Brookings Institution. Or, Distinguished Fellow in Residence in Economic Studies, if you want to get official about it. And while his successor, Janet Yellen, spent four hours testifying before Congress earlier this month, Bernanke was lunching in the Brookings cafeteria.

But the man once called the Buddha of Central Banking isn't coasting into retirement. He is lined up to give the keynote address March 7 at a conference in Houston on "Energy and the New Global Competition," organized by consulting firm IHS Energy. He will be critiquing a paper at Brookings next month by two young economists on the progress of Japan's recovery. And he is working on a memoir about his eight years in office, a process that he estimates will take about a year to complete, according to the Associated Press. The AP also reported that he will meet with publishers over the next several weeks and is represented by Washington powerbroker Robert Barnett.

It's almost certain to be a riveting account. This is how he described his tenure in his last public remarks before leaving office in January:

“ I was kind of like if you're in a car wreck. You're mostly involved in trying to avoid going off the bridge. And then later on you say, ‘Oh, my God.'"

We all know how difficult it is to look away from a crash.

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