How the Crisis Changed Bernanke

Extraordinary times have changed the Fed chairman's language and policy
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2009 12:33 PM CST
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2009.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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(Newser) – Crises change people, and the changes wrought by the financial meltdown on Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke were well evident at a Press Club lunch yesterday, writes Dana Milibank for the Washington Post. Previously known for bland answers, this academic now tempers his economist-speak with straight talk and supplemented official data with a story about how the crisis has hurt his South Carolina hometown.

The crisis has changed Bernanke’s actions as well: He’s expanded the scope of Fed intervention to direct lending and the buying of mortgage securities. At yesterday’s luncheon he seriously discussed a short-term nationalization of the most troubled banks—an unexpected turn for a chairman nominated by George Bush. As Bernanke said yesterday: "Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.” Indeed.