Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Curious Case of Ben Bernanke

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 3/15/2009 No comments
I'm a Sunday news show fanatic. There's not much I enjoy more on the Sabbath day than catching episodes of Meet the Press in the morning and 60 Minutes in the evening (I managed to squeeze in church today, too). And I just saw one of the best interviews ever on 60 Minutes--a profile of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that took up more than half of the hour-long show. Correspondent Scott Pelley and the CBS News team demonstrated journalism at its best. And as is pointed out, this was the first time the fed chairman had ever done a television interview.

Bernanke talked a lot about the state of the economy and what the Federal Reserve is doing to try to fix it. He also took us inside the massive and rarely seen headquarters in Washington, D.C. But what I found most interesting was part two of the segment (the part that aired after the commercial break) that chronicled Bernanke's upbringing. He grew up in Dillon, South Carolina, a small town with only about 6,000 people. He worked hard all of his life and was raised by a middle class family. During the segment he said, "I come from Main Street. That's my background. And I've never been on Wall Street. I care about Wall Street for one reason and one reason only--because what happens on Wall Street matters to Main Street."

It's comforting to know that Bernanke, who "aside from the president [is] the most powerful man working to save the economy," as Pelley said, grew up like most of us. I, especially, can relate to his small-town upbringing because I grew up in a small town in South Carolina as well. Although it's not mentioned in this interview, Bernanke has several ties to Charlotte, including that his brother is a lawyer here and a few years ago he was awarded the Citizen of the Carolinas Award by the Charlotte Chamber.

Below is video of part two of the 60 Minutes segment in which you get to learn about who Bernanke is. There's also an interesting and ironic moment when his childhood home is shown. His family sold the house years ago and the last owner let it go into foreclosure.

Click here to see all of the 60 Minutes coverage, including a behind-the-scenes look into the Federal Reserve Bank.


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