Time has decided: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is 2009's Person of the Year. I like to think of 2009 as the The Year of the "What the [word my editor deleted]?!" as moral hazard issues swamped the market. For a year like that, I guess Bernanke is indeed the Person.
Bernanke's often credited with saving the day in the face of economic crisis, but his policies draw plenty of criticism, too. Many citizens view the "rescues" he orchestrated for bailed-out banks as a big fat benefit for the bankers themselves. Executives at taxpayer-funded businesses such as AIG (NYSE: AIG ) , Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) , and Citigroup (NYSE: C ) didn't help their case by loudly grousing about government limits on their salaries and bonuses. You'd think they honestly couldn't understand why citizens might balk at footing the bill for their lavish compensation packages.
In addition, the Fed's exit strategy from its interventions remains unclear, and its decision to print more and more money in hopes of pumping up our economy could send inflation soaring. Many critics even lay a significant share of bubble blame at the Fed's doorstep to begin with. In that light, by naming Bernanke "Person of the Year," Time seems to have invited a whole bushel of controversy and questions.
I rarely agree with economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, but his post on the issue today was both funny and a little creepy. "Be afraid, be very afraid" of Bernanke's honor, he wrote, citing the so-called Time "cover curse." Apparently, being named Person of the Year can often prove, uh, a bit of a contrarian indicator.
What do you think of Time's choice? Can you think of a better recipient? Sound off in the comment boxes below.