Time Person of the Year: It’s Bernanke, Stupid


20091228_poyTime takes its ‘Person of the Year’ very seriously, as evidenced by this year’s pick: United States Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who I suspect is really just a fill in for the U.S. economy, which yes is absolutely the overriding issue of the year.

Had Time taken the whole thing slightly less seriously they probably would have considered picking someone who might actually sell magazines, like say, Hillary Clinton, or Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin (all of who should have been on the short list), or even Michael Jackson, or the Tea Partiers. But cold hard….logic(?) prevailed and we get Bernanke. Of course, this year (and if things keep going the way they are, likely many to come) was more or less an exercise in not choosing Barack Obama again.

So why Bernanke specifically? Here’s what Time‘s managing editor Rick Stengel had to say:

As Bernanke said when we interviewed him this month, he did not see the crisis coming, and he probably did not react as fast as he should have reacted. His defense against the criticism that he rescued bloated banks and their overpaid execs is that the system itself is the problem: no bank should be too big to fail, but when it is, the alternative to saving it is destroying the livelihood of millions. There is an enormous difference between the financial system and the economy, but if the financial system fails, it takes the economy down with it.

And this from the profile piece on Bernanke:

He just happens to be the most powerful nerd on the planet. Bernanke is the 56-year-old chairman of the Federal Reserve, the central bank of the U.S., the most important and least understood force shaping the American — and global — economy. Those green bills featuring dead Presidents are labeled federal reserve note for a reason: the Fed controls the money supply.

Meanwhile, Joe Weisenthal at Business Insider wonders whether with a 21% approval rating if Bernanke isn’t the least popular person ever to be made Time’s POY. Answer: no.

Follow is video explaining Time‘s decision process:

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