Bernanke joins Brookings think tank as Yellen takes over as Fed chair

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke walks out of his Washington, D.C., office Friday for the last time as head of the central bank.
(Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

WASHINGTON -- Ben S. Bernanke, whose eight-year tenure as Federal Reserve chair ended Sunday, will join the Brookings Institution think tank as a distinguished fellow in residence.

The news came Monday as his replacement, Janet L. Yellen, was sworn in as the first woman to lead the powerful U.S. central bank.

Bernanke will be affiliated with the new Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy, Brookings said Monday.


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“His firm, steady hand at the Fed’s tiller came at a crucial time in our nation’s history, including during the worst financial and economic crisis since the Great Depression,” said Strobe Talbott, president of the Washington, D.C., think tank.

“We know he’ll bring insights from his tenure at the Fed to his work at Brookings, which will be particularly valuable and timely given heightened attention to monetary policy and the recent launch of the Hutchins Center,” Talbott said.

The announcement of Bernanke’s new role came at the same time that Yellen, the former vice chair, took the oath of office in the Fed’s boardroom Monday morning. Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo administered the oath.

Bernanke, a Republican, was a longtime professor of economics and public policy at Princeton University before joining the Fed. His focus was on the Great Depression.

He took over as Fed chair on Feb. 1, 2006, leading the central bank through the tumultuous financial crisis and Great Recession.


David Wessel, head of the Hutchins Center, described Bernanke as “rescuer-in-chief during the worst financial crisis in 75 years.”

“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,” Wessel said in a blog post Monday welcoming him to Brookings.

Brookings has been a rumored landing spot for Bernanke, who was expected to remain in Washington after he stepped down.

Donald Kohn, who served as vice chair under Bernanke before stepping down in 2010, is a senior fellow there. And Bernanke chose Brookings for his last public speech as Fed chair on Jan. 16.

Brookings noted its long history with the Fed. Two original Fed governors, Frederic Delano and Paul Warburg, were trustees of the think tank, as was longtime Fed Chairman William McChesney Martin Jr.

In addition to Kohn, Brookings boasts another former Fed governor, Alice Rivlin.