Time has named Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke as its "person of the year," touching off the annual debate over whether the magazine's pick is worthy. According to Time's editors, Bernanke, a Great Depression scholar, knew what had to be done when the worst financial crisis in generations hit, and his leadership prevented an economic collapse. But critics point out that Bernanke, whom the Senate Banking Committee recommended for a second term on Thursday, failed to spot the dangers of a housing bubble inflated by the Fed's low interest rates. Did Time make the right pick? (Watch a report about Ben Bernanke, person of the year)
The right choice
"Ben Bernanke may not be a snazzy choice," says Joel Achenbach in The Washington Post, "but he's a smart one." Bernanke spent much of his career studying the causes of the Great Depression, so American was fortunate that he was around at to guide us through the worst financial calamity we have faced since. The recession has been painful, but without Bernanke things could have been a lot worse.
"Time 'Person of the Year': Good call"
I'm convinced that Ben Bernanke was a deserving choice for Time's Person of the Year," says Derek Thompson in The Atlantic, "if for no other reason than that the runner-ups -- Stanley McChrystal, The Chinese Worker, Nancy Pelosi, Usain Bolt (??) -- strike me as second stringers compared to the man who embodies our response to the economic crisis."
"Ben Bernanke, person/firefighter of the year"
The wrong choice
Naming Ben Bernanke "Man of the Year" is "a little bit like celebrating an arsonist for his heroics in putting out a fire that he set," says Robert Borosage in Truthout. Bernanke "ignored the dangers of the housing bubble" and insisted that banks were well capitalized. Yes, "Bernanke has done creative and bold work in staving off a financial free fall. But he would also be on any list of the 10 people most responsible for creating the free fall."
"Bernanke: Time's man of the year"
For an expert on the Great Depression, says David Prosser in Britain's Independent, Ben Bernanke "was remarkably slow to spot a disastrous recession coming down the tracks towards the U.S. and the world." And Republican critics still think the economic stimulus he pushed will ignite inflation. "With the world economy not out of the woods yet -- and millions of Americans out of work -- this award looks strangely premature."
"An odd time to applaud Bernanke"