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Bernanke is Time mag's person of the year -- what do you think?

This morning, as I mentioned earlier, Time magazine picked Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke as its person of the year.

You can read Time's story on Bernanke (written by former Post reporter Mike Grunwald) by clicking here.

Here's Time's rationale for picking Bernanke. Managing editor Richard Stengel writes: "What we don't know is what the economy and our lives would look like if a few individuals had not acted on our behalf and had simply sat on their hands. We don't know what didn't happen, but I'm convinced that the economy would look much, much worse."

Bernanke may be the ultimate Rashomon figure of this great crisis and recession: How you see him depends on where you stand.

For some, he's the savior of the economy for saving failing banks, for opening up the money spigot, for pushing interest rates low.

For others, he's the ultimate villain for the same reasons: Free-marketers believe failure should be an option in a market economy, monetarists fear Bernanke's rush to liquidity (which earned him the name "Helicopter Ben," as in, dropping dollars from a helicopter) has critically devalued the dollar and will lead to inflation, and others believe he is keeping rates too low too long, practically begging us to form another bubble.

I included Bernanke in my business Heroes/Villains of the Decade under "Some who could go either way." You can find a reader discussion I conducted on the topic earlier in the week by clicking here.

What do you think? Is Bernanke the most influential person of the year, good or bad, and thus deserving of Time's award? Is he the most influential for the good he has done or the damage he has wrought?

(BREAKING: We know what Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) thinks about Bernanke: Merkley said moments ago he will vote against Bernanke's confirmation for a second term at the helm of the Fed on Dec. 17.)

Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

-- Frank Ahrens
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By Frank Ahrens  |  December 16, 2009; 12:33 PM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Ben Bernanke, Jeff Merkley, Time, person of the year  
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Comments

“If I am confirmed to this position, my first priority will be to maintain consistency and continuity with the policies established during the Greenspan years.”

We are stuck in time. Greenspan thought he was right, until he thought he was wrong. The thing now is too be right and wrong at the same time. The old guy here says Tiger Woods should be POY. There's always next year!

Posted by: Dermitt | December 16, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

What the FOX in the HENHOUSE Award!!!

Posted by: Wildthing1 | December 16, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Considering that this man was, in a large way, responsible for the entire financial debacle in the first place, I consider his award on a par with his boss' nobel prize. Absolutely ludicrous!!!

Posted by: GordonShumway | December 16, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Hahaha! Speechless. It's like honoring the biggest drug dealer the town for giving an drug addict a massive dose of Heroine in order to "save" him from the pain of rehabilitation. By the same logic, Alan Greenspan should be Man of the Century for bringing America 7 years of "unprecedented prosperity".

Posted by: neolib | December 16, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

People ranting against Bernanke should reflect on the fact that they have absolutely no idea what would have happened if Bernanke had not taken desperate measures to keep the whole US financial structure from collapsing. To believe that one could let institutions with total obligations in the trillions of $$$ fail with no catastrophic repercussions is beyond irresponsible. The panic that followed Lehman Brothers (relatively small concern) collapse is sufficient proof that the consequences would have been terrifying. Whether the actions taken were the best possible is debatable but there was not no time left for reflection. Was Bernanke responsible for the financial mess to begin with? He has some responsibility in that the alarm was not raised ahead of time. But given the loose regulations in place it is doubtful he could have acted to prevent the financial meltdown much earlier. The root cause was the unbelievable irresponsibility of large financial institutions that were acquiring wealth by shifting risk to someone else (until risk caught up with them).

Posted by: serban1 | December 17, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

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