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Bernanke takes hit on investments

Ben Bernanke saw his net worth fall by more than a quarter in 2008, to between $850,000 and $1.9 million. Ben Bernanke saw his net worth fall by more than a quarter in 2008, to between $850,000 and $1.9 million.
Associated Press / July 29, 2009

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WASHINGTON - If your investments didn’t fare so well last year, here’s a small consolation: Neither did Fed chairman Ben Bernanke’s.

The nation’s top financial official saw his net worth fall by more than a quarter in 2008, to between $850,000 and $1.9 million, according to an annual disclosure form released yesterday. While still substantial, that’s down from the $1.2 million to $2.5 million he reported for 2007.

Bernanke, who has had to grapple with a financial crisis brought on in part by complex investment products, keeps his assets in plain vanilla vehicles such as retirement plans, mutual funds, and savings accounts.

He has a money market account with between $50,000 and $100,000, according to the disclosure form, which asks only for broad ranges for the values of holdings.

The Fed chairman, a former economics professor at Princeton University, has most of his wealth in two annuities managed by TIAA-CREF, which provides retirement savings plans for academic institutions and other nonprofits. Still, Bernanke did better than the stock market as a whole last year, which plummeted as the housing and credit crises sent the economy into a steep recession. The broad S&P 500 index fell almost 39 percent in 2008.

Bernanke reported income from his investments of between $25,000 and $80,000 last year, also down substantially from 2007, when he earned between $141,500 and $333,100. But he reported higher royalty income from two textbooks he wrote. Bernanke earned between $50,000 and $100,000 on one book and between $100,000 and $1 million on the second, up from $50,000 to $100,000 on both books in 2007.

Bernanke listed no individual stocks or corporate bonds among his holdings. The chairman and other Federal Reserve board members are not allowed to own stock in banking organizations or shares of mutual funds specializing in banking and finance.