New Fed Chair Has Southern Roots
On Feb. 1, Ben S. Bernanke was sworn in as the 14th chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, succeeding Alan Greenspan.
No stranger to the Fed, Bernanke served on the Board of Governors from August 2002 until June 2005, when he was appointed chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers.
Distinguished in academia
Bernanke earned a B.A. in economics in 1975 from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in economics in 1979 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before his first stint with the Board of Governors, Bernanke was the Howard Harrison and Gabrielle Snyder Beck Professor of Economics and Public Affairs and chair of the economics department at Princeton University from 1996 until 2002. He joined the Princeton faculty in 1985 after starting his teaching career at Stanford University.
His published articles cover a range of economic issues. Bernanke has also authored books on the Great Depression and inflation targeting as well as two economics textbooks.
Bernanke has held a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Sloan Fellowship, was editor of the American Economic Review, and is a fellow of the Econometric Society and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was also director of the Monetary Economics Program of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Scholastic aptitude evident early
Born Dec. 13, 1953, in Augusta, Ga., Bernanke is the son of a pharmacist and a schoolteacher. His family moved to Dillon, S.C., when he was a child. As a sixth grader he won the state spelling bee, and the year he took the SAT he had the state’s highest score—1590 out of 1600. Bernanke claims that his interest in statistics grew from boyhood hours spent poring over baseball box scores.
Guiding the nation’s monetary policy
Bernanke is one of seven members of the Fed’s Board of Governors. Formulating monetary policy is the primary responsibility of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), a 12-member group composed of the seven governors and five Reserve Bank presidents. (All 12 Reserve Bank presidents attend FOMC meetings, but only five have a vote at any one time.) The FOMC makes the key decisions influencing the cost and availability of money and credit in the economy.