|Illustration by Quickhoney|
Name: Ben S. Bernanke
Job: Chairman of the Federal Reserve
Why he’s brave: His radical interventions may have saved the day.
Quote: “There were many people who said, 'Let them fail. It’s not a problem. The markets will take care of it.' And I think I knew better than that.”
The political focus on the federal stimulus package and Bernanke’s own professorial mildness have deflected attention from how radically the Fed chief has acted. He dropped target interest rates to near-zero for the first time in history; made trillions of dollars in government cash available to financial institutions; expanded the Fed’s lending and relaxed its collateral requirements; bought up billions of dollars in securities backed by consumer debt and mortgages; prevented the collapse of AIG, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac; and somehow found time to bear the made-for-TV harangues of financially illiterate members of Congress. The particulars of the Fed’s interventions remain lamentably shielded from oversight. But in the Great Recession, Bernanke’s forceful approach may have spared the world from a true nightmare.