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In his six years as chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke has stretched the central bank in once-unthinkable ways—pushing short-term interest rates to near zero and keeping them there for years, more than tripling the size of its securities and loan portfolio, rescuing financial firms that the Fed doesn’t even regulate.
Lost in the glare of these radical actions is how much he has changed the institution itself. Under his leadership, the Fed has become more open about its plans for the economy and its own sometimes-divisive internal debates. Mr. Bernanke also has made the institution more consensus-oriented even as he assertively pushed the Fed into uncomfortable places. Last week’s moves by the Fed were vintage Bernanke in all of these respects and will have long-lasting effects on how the central bank operates