Bernanke: Crisis has 'dominated my waking hours'

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke Friday said that battling the worst financial crisis to hit the United States since the 1930s has "dominated my waking hours" for the last 21 months.

In prepared remarks to graduates of Boston College School of Law in Newton, Mass., the Fed chief offered some rare personal and candid thoughts about dealing with challenges at work and at home.

Bernanke's advice to graduates: be prepared; stay optimistic, be flexible — even adventurous.

A student of the Great Depression who spent most much of his professional career as an economics professor, Bernanke said it was a series of unpredictable factors that shaped his future.

At Harvard University, he chose to major in economics as a compromise between math and English.

In graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he became interested in monetary and financial history when a professor gave him several books on the subject. Bernanke then became determined to learn more about the causes of financial crises and their impact on the economy.

"Little did I realize then how relevant that subject would become one day," he said.

And on a more personal level: it was on a blind date that he met his wife, Anna.

Bernanke also offered wisdom from references to Bank of England Governor Mervyn King (the object of central banks should be to make monetary policy as boring as possible), scientist Louis Pasteur ("Chance favors the prepared mind"), and Beatle John Lennon ("Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans").