Ben Bernanke joins Brookings Institution

Ben Bernanke, who has just finished eight years as chairman of the Federal Reserve, the US central banking system, has become a Distinguished Fellow in Residence of the Brookings Institution.

Bernanke, who was sworn in as Fed chairman in 2006, completed his tenure at the end of January, 2014. Little did he know when he started at the post that fissures were opening in the foundations of the US financial system and economy.

In 2008, he was chief rescuer during the US’ worst financial crisis in over seven decades. His phrase “Whatever it takes,” has prevailed ever since.

At a recent Hutchins Center inaugural event, Brookings board vice chair, Glen Hutchins, said:

“Despite the massive deleveraging of the last few years, we are still deeply in debt to Ben Bernanke.”

Zero interest rates and the stimulus package

Bernanke has been at the helm of an historic experiment in monetary policy – zero interest rates which have persisted for five years so far, and trillions of dollars in bond-buying, a controversial stimulus package aiming at ensuring that the US economy grows.

Rather than having to sit through Federal Open Market Committee meetings, deliver the Fed’s six-monthly testimony to a sometimes hostile Congress, or listen to emerging market central bankers’ complaints, he will have find to reminisce and reflect on what just happened.

At the Brookings Institution, Bernanke recently said:

“ 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.’”

David Wessel, Director, The Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy, wrote:

“Mr. Bernanke will be sitting down the hall from scholars in Brookings Economic Studies program. We’re looking forward to helping Mr. Bernanke with the book he plans to write, and to getting his advice as we work to improve public understanding of fiscal and monetary policy and improve the quality and effectiveness of those policies.”

Many had speculated that Bernanke, a former Princeton professor, would go to Brookings, where he is expected to work on a book. Brookings is a non-partisan institution and has members from both sides of the American political spectrum.

In a statement issued by Brookings, Bernanke said:

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