"Bernanke didn't just learn from history; he wrote it himself and was damned if he was going to repeat it. The recession was the story of the year. Without Ben Bernanke it would have been a lot worse," The Independent quoted Richard Stengel, managing editor of Time, as saying.
However, the choice of the person of the year quickly came under questioning, with politicians, pundits and the public debating the American economist's culpability in the financial crisis that engulfed the world on his watch.
Many questioned the wisdom of his efforts to bail out the financial system as it teetered last year, and his decision to flood markets with newly printed money this year.
"I find it ironic that a man who has spent the last year rewarding others for failure is now being named person of the year. But if Time magazine is in the business of rewarding failure, Ben Bernanke is their man," said Republican Jim Bunning, who is a fierce critic of the Wall Street bailout.
Earlier in an interview with Time magazine, Bernanke had admitted having made mistakes, including underestimating the severity of the fallout likely from the sub-prime mortgage market failure, but adds that his academic studies of the Great Depression assured him that bailing out the financial system was essential to preventing a recession from turning into a second depression.The publication of Time's choice coincides with a voting on Thursday to decide Bernanke's nomination for a second term as Fed chairman. He has a strong backing of the members of the Senate banking committee, but could face hurdles, including a motion introduced on Wednesday that would have his reappointment put on hold to allow for longer debate.