By JOSH BOAK
WASHINGTON (AP) a¿¿ It sounds pretty routine: A Washington official holds a news conference. But when Ben Bernanke decided in 2011 to start meeting with reporters four times a year on national television, it marked a radical departure.
Never had a Federal Reserve chairman held regular news conferences. The Fed, an independent government agency, had long shrouded itself in obscurity, even secrecy.
Bernanke's move was part of his broader drive to make the Fed more transparent and publicly accessible as it tried to help the economy heal from the Great Recession. He has also held town-hall meetings, appeared on "60 Minutes" and publicly released details of Fed officials' policy plans and forecasts.
On Wednesday, Bernanke held his 12th and final news conference as chairman. Here are some highlights from his appearances:
a¿¿ Regrets? He's had, well, many (Sept. 18, 2013)
If Bernanke acknowledged any defining mistake as Fed chair, it was downplaying the housing bubble. The 2008 financial meltdown sent the economy into an epic tailspin. Bernanke misquoted the Frank Sinatra classic "My Way" when reflecting on the crisis, which would shape his stewardship of the Fed. Sinatra officially had only a "few" regrets. Bernanke was among the rare Washington leader to acknowledge "many":
"On regrets, as Frank Sinatra says, I have many. I think my a¿¿ you know, reasonably, the biggest regret I have is that we didn't forestall the crisis. I think once the crisis got going, it was extremely hard to prevent. You know, I think we did what we could, given the powers that we had."
a¿¿ Man of the people (March 20, 2013)
Bernanke, a longtime Princeton University professor, loved to stress his roots in a humble area of South Carolina. He sometimes did so to try to humanize economic pain that is frequently illustrated only through numbers: