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Q & A

Who is Ben Bernanke?

Ben S. Bernanke was sworn in on Feb. 1, 2006, as chairman and a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Bernanke also serves as Chairman of the Federal Open Market Committee, the System's principal monetary policymaking body.


What is his educational background?

Bernanke graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in economics from Harvard University in 1975. A Ph.D. in economics was awarded to Bernanke from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1979.


Besides being a member of the Federal Reserve Board, what other work experience does he have?

Bernanke has taught at several universities, including Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Princeton University. As an author, he has published several scholarly books and two textbooks. His work with civic and professional groups includes two terms as a member of the Montgomery Township (N.J.) Board of Education. Before his swearing-in as chairman of the Federal Reserve, Bernanke was chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, from June 2005 to January 2006.


How is the chairman of the Board of Governors chosen?

The seven members of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The chairman and the vice chairman of the Board are named by the president from among the members of the Board of Governors and are confirmed by the Senate.


How long do the chairman and other members of the Board of Governors serve?

Terms of the seven members of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System are for 14 years. The chairman and vice chairman's positions are for four years, and they can be reappointed to those four-year offices as long as they are on the Board. Bernanke was appointed to a full 14-year term, which expires Jan. 31, 2020, and to a four-year term as chairman, which expires Jan. 31, 2010.


The content for Q & A was compiled by Billy Britt, economic education specialist at the St. Louis Fed's Little Rock Branch, and was largely adapted from the "About the Fed" section of the Federal Reserve Board's web site. For more information and a list of previous Fed chairmen and the dates they served in office, go to