Recession hits Bernanke's net worth too

If you're upset with Ben Bernanke about the state of the economy and his efforts at "fixing it," perhaps you can take some comfort in the fact he's lost a significant chunk of his net worth too.

His net worth fell by more than a quarter in the first three months of 2009 compared with the first three months of the previous year according to an annual disclosure statement released yesterday. He's now worth between $850,000 and $1.9 million compared with a range of $1.2 million to $2.5 million last year.
Bernanke assets consist of a combination of money market accounts and TIAA-CREFF-managed annuities dating back to his tenure as a Princeton professor.

Does this strike anyone else as an unusually small net worth for someone as financially powerful as the chairman of the Federal Reserve? Predecessor Alan Greenspan's net worth was reported at somewhere in the $4.2 million range last year. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner reported his net worth at between $740,000 and $1.7 million; his predecessor, the much-maligned Hank Paulson is worth somewhere in the $700 million range.

The net worth disclosure won't do much to assuage one of the main accusations that has been lobbed at Bernanke: He's an academic. A significant chunk of his income comes from royalties on textbooks. In 2007, The Economist asked whether Bernanke was "too academic" and Jim Cramer has made a nice hobby of dismissing "Uncle Ben" as being too Ivory Tower and out of touch. On the other hand, Paulson's wealth and ties to Wall Street led to accusations of cronyism and self-dealing. So it's unclear what exactly people want out of financial bureaucrats.
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