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Bernanke confident U.S. economy on the mend

Ben Bernanke, former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, spoke in Toronto Tuesday.

GARY CAMERON/REUTERS

Former fed chairman Ben Bernanke is confident the U.S. economy is on the right track to recovery from its deep troubles since the 2008 crisis.

"We are making considerable progress," he told a packed Toronto hotel ballroom in a speech Tuesday. "Many of the headwinds ... are beginning to dissipate."

Asked if he has any regrets from his Fed tenure, Mr. Bernanke joked, "[taking] the job."

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He regrets that a lot of Americans still don't understand "why we did what we did," despite his strenuous efforts to explain the bank's policies by appearing on 60 Minutes and other widely watched programs as well as more than 280 speeches and plenty of appearances before congressional committees.

He realizes many people believe the Fed did more for Wall Street than Main Street. "That's unfortunate."

During a question-and-answer session after his speech to the Economic Club of Canada, he was asked to reflect on some of the decisions he made while in the leadership role.

He said the central bank "didn't identify all the aspects of the crisis" at the time. "In the fog of war there are many things we did that were imperfect," he said.

Mr. Bernanke served as the head of the Federal Reserve from 2006 until last year, and played a key role in navigating the United States through the global financial crisis.

He is now an economist at the independent research firm Brookings Institution, headquartered in Washington.

Janet Yellen took the leadership role at the central bank in February.

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With files from The Canadian Press

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About the Author
Senior Economics Writer and Global Markets Columnist

Brian Milner is a senior economics writer and global markets columnist. In a long career at The Globe and Mail, he has covered diverse business beats, including international trade, the automotive industry, media, debt markets, banking and the business side of sports. More

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