Photograph by Dan Winters for TIME

Ben Bernanke

The story of the year was a weak economy that could have been much, much weaker. How the mild-mannered man who runs the Federal Reserve prevented an economic catastrophe

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To Our Readers

The recession was the story of the year. Without Ben Bernanke, TIME's 2009 Person of the Year, it would have been a lot worse

Q&A with Ben Bernanke

The Fed chairman sat down with TIME on Dec. 8 for a conversation about everything from the state of the economy to the contents of his wallet

Runners-Up

Person of the Year 1927 - 2011

The Protester: TIME's 2011 Person of the Year

2011

No one could have known that when a Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire in a public square, it would incite protests that would topple dictators and start a global wave of dissent. In 2011, protesters didn't just voice their complaints; they changed the world.

Barack Obama: TIME's 2008 Person of the Year
Mark Zuckerberg: TIME's 2010 Person of the Year
Martin Luther King Jr.: TIME's 1964 Person of the Year

TIME's Person of the Year is bestowed by the editors on the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year. See who made the grade over TIME's first eight decades. See them all