WASHINGTON — As Federal Reserve Board chairman, Ben Bernanke helped operate some of the key levers of the free-market economy. Now, he actually gets to enjoy some of the fruits of his labor.

Many news outlets picked up on revelations that Bernanke, according to unnamed sources, was paid at least $250,000 for his first post-Fed speech Tuesday in Abu Dhabi. The fee, which was reported by Reuters, meant Bernanke made more during the 40-minute speech than he did for his entire last year as Fed chief, the news agency said. (Bernanke, who last month was named a fellow at the Brookings Institution, made $199,700 in 2013, according to the report.)

The Reuters story said Bernanke spoke at a conference hosted by the National Bank of Abu Dhabi at which participants "paid $2,000 each to listen to Bernanke and other speakers, including former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers."

MarketWatch posted a related story observing that Bernanke's reported fee already "puts him near the top of the food chain" for what former policymakers can command for speaking engagements.

Reuters agreed "the fee launches him into the upper echelons of sought-after speakers," but said "it leaves him well short of former President Bill Clinton - the gold standard of Americans turning charisma into cash — who has, by some estimates, earned two or even three times that much for some appearances in recent years."

Still, Bernanke's appearance in Abu Dhabi was only the beginning. Following that speech, Reuters said, Bernanke had scheduled stops to address a forum hosted by the firm Discovery Limited in Johannesburg on Wednesday, and to speak about energy-related issues at a Houston conference hosted by Siemens and HIS.

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