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Five things you didn’t know about former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke

Former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke participates in a panel discussion at the Brookings Institution.Former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke participates in a panel discussion at the Brookings Institution.
Former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke participates in a panel discussion at the Brookings Institution.Photograph by Chip Somodevilla — Getty Images

The year 2008 marked the beginning of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. That year, Ben Bernanke was the chairman of the Federal Reserve. He witnessed the infamous collapse of the Lehman Brothers investment bank, the government takeover of mortgage providers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and hundreds of billions of dollars in aid being given to some of the most established U.S. financial institutions. In his new memoir—a 600-word tome entitled The Courage to Act: A Memoir of a Crisis and its Aftermath—Bernanke chronicles in painstaking detail the events of that fateful fall.

Bernanke’s memoir, scheduled to be published Monday, also includes a few details on former Fed chairman’s life prior to the bailouts and rescue program, according to the Associated Press. Here are five things we learned about Bernanke from the AP‘s preview of the book:

  1. Bernanke grew up in a small town called Dillon in South Carolina. Because he is Jewish, Bernanke was asked if he had horns in elementary school.

ECONOMY-STIMULUS The red-brick county courthouse in Dillon, South Carolina. MCT via Getty Images

2. The former Fed chairman failed his first physics midterm at Harvard and felt that he couldn’t compete with the other mathematics students. This eventually led him to give economics a try.

Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

3. He met his wife, Anna, on a blind date during which they ate spaghetti and played ping pong. Their mutual friends set them up because they were both nerdy.

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4. One of the things that got him through the crisis was an index card given to him by the Fed’s parking garage manager. It had on it a quote by Abraham Lincoln, which read: “If I were to try to read, much less answer all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business.”

ECB Central Banking Conference Bloomberg via Getty Images

5. Bernanke doesn’t consider himself a part of any political party, instead considering himself to be “a moderate independent.”

President Obama Announces Janet Yellen As His Choice To Chair Federal ReserveChip Somodevilla Getty Images