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Bernanke likens ‘08 financial crisis to car crash

Ben Bernanke leaves the Fed Jan. 31 after eight years as chairman. His successor is Janet Yellen. He said there has not been a problem with inflation as a result of the Fed’s massive bond-buying program — despite critics’ worries — and that the economy still needs help.
Ben Bernanke leaves the Fed Jan. 31 after eight years as chairman. His successor is Janet Yellen. He said there has not been a problem with inflation as a result of the Fed’s massive bond-buying program — despite critics’ worries — and that the economy still needs help.Manuel Balce Ceneta /Associated Press

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In his final public appearance as chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke took a moment to reflect on the 2008 financial crisis and compared it to surviving a bad car crash.

During an interview Thursday at the Brookings Institution, Bernanke recalled some ‘‘very intense periods’’ during the crisis, similar to trying to keep a car from going over a bridge after a collision.

The government had just taken over mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Lehman Brothers had collapsed. He recalled some sleepless nights working with others to try and contain the damage.

‘‘If you’re in a car wreck or something, you’re mostly involved in trying to avoid going off the bridge. And then, later on, you say, ‘Oh my God!’’’ Bernanke said.

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