At a Glance
- Career History: White House Council of Economic Advisors (June 2005 to January 2006); Fed Governor (2002 to 2005); Professor of Economics at Princeton University (1985 to 2002)
- Birthday: December 13, 1953
- Hometown: Atlanta, Ga.
- Alma Mater: Harvard University, B.A. (economics); Massachusetts Iinstitute of Technology, Ph.D (economics), 1975
- Spouse: Anna
- Web site
Path to Power
Born in Atlanta, Ga., and raised in a small South Carolina town called Dillon, Bernanke early on showed his intellectual prowess. He won the state spelling bee in 1965 and moved on to the nationals where he placed 26th. His downfall came when asked to spell the word 'edelweiss.'
The town of Dillon wasn't diverse, and Bernanke and his family were one of few kosher Jews in the area. This invited some taunts and prejudiced remarks. "There was more than one request to see my horns," Bernanke said.
Trying to fill the shoes of the iconic Greenspan would have been a hard job even if not for the most severe financial and economic crisis in decades. But Bernanke received praise for his handling of the 2008-2009 recession. In August 2009, President Obama appointed Bernanke to a second four-year term while vacationing in Martha's Vineyard. Bernanke's second term will need to be confirmed by the Senate.
A month later, Bernanke was talking to the liberal Washington think-tank the Brookings Institution when he declared that the 2008-2009 recession is "very likely over."
Bernanke has made the jump from academia to public life, and has friends in both sectors. He had worked closely with Geithner, President Obama's nominee for Treasury secretary. He has also worked with with Bush Treasury Secretary Paulson and FDIC head Bair. He is a longtime friend of incoming chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Christina Romer, and a colleague of White House economic aide Larry Summers.
After becoming Fed chairman, Bernanke asked Geithner to arrange lunches and breakfasts with a variety of business leaders, including Citigroup's chairman and former Treasury secretary and Obama adviser Robert Rubin, as well JPMorgan chairman Dennis Weatherstone.