Inside the Head of the New Fed Chief

Ben Bernanke, the man who holds the reins of the economy, likes to listen. Now he's starting to say what's on his mind

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The data aren't helping. Bernanke looks at about 25 sets of data a day, and often they are at odds with one another. While Greenspan had a penchant for obscure statistics, like the production of No. 5 trucks, Bernanke sticks closer to mainstream data. "I never knew what a No. 5 truck was," says Alan Blinder, a former Fed vice chairman and a professor at Princeton. "Bernanke probably doesn't either." The minutes from the May meeting of the Fed committee that sets rates showed that opinions ranged from doing nothing to raising rates 0.5%. The Fed raised rates 0.25% for a then 16th straight time. "You're much better off knowing what the controversies are than operating in ignorance," Bernanke said in a 2004 interview with the Minneapolis Fed. With his push for more candor and exchange, the expression of those controversies is sure only to grow, especially as the Fed attempts to steer the economy toward a soft landing.

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