Calling him the "most powerful nerd on the planet," Time magazine dubbed Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke its Person of the Year on Wednesday.

The news magazine's honor came on the eve of a vote by the Senate Banking Committee on whether to confirm Bernanke for another four-year term. He is widely expected to win approval by the panel and, eventually, the Senate, though Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., a member of the banking panel, said Wednesday that he would vote against Bernanke.

Bernanke was picked, Time said, because of his efforts to save the world economy from disaster.

"The main reason Ben Shalom Bernanke is Time's Person of the Year for 2009 is that he is the most important player guiding the world's most important economy," the magazine wrote. "His creative leadership helped ensure that 2009 was a period of weak recovery rather than catastrophic depression, and he still wields unrivaled power over our money, our jobs, our savings and our national future. The decisions he has made, and those he has yet to make, will shape the path of our prosperity, the direction of our politics and our relationship to the world."

Though the article includes criticism of Bernanke, it is overwhelmingly positive, noting that as an expert on the Great Depression he was uniquely qualified to handle the financial crisis. "It was the right man in the right place at the right time," said Fed Gov. Dan Tarullo, according to Time.

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