How do you describe the power of a man who makes markets across the world- from the US to Tokyo- reverberate every time he speaks? And even when he doesn't?
Ben Bernanke is a sought-after man. That he is chairman of the US Federal Reserve is a good enough reason, but the sheer scale of attention he commands in today's global economy can put any Hollywood sensation to shame.
When the former academician took over the task that eventually translates to setting global policy on February 1, 2006, he perhaps would not have anticipated that the onus of steering a tremulous world economy would be on him.
"Ben comes with superb academic credentials and important insights into the ways our economy functions. I have no doubt that he will be a credit to the nation as chairman of the Federal Reserve board," his predecessor, Alan Greenspan, said when Mr Bernanke first became chairman. He began his second term on February 1, 2010.
Born in December 1953 in Georgia, Mr. Bernanke excelled in academics, graduating with top honours in economics from Harvard University and earning a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Mr Bernanke is not unfamiliar with the Federal Reserve, having served as a member of its board of governors.
He has taught at Stanford University and Princeton University, among others, before a career in public services.
The former editor of the American Economic Review has published many articles on economic issues, including monetary policy and macroeconomics, and authored several books.
The academic in him is evident in a recent speech he made at a Teacher Town Hall Meeting in early August. "As an educator myself, I understand the profound effect that good teachers and a quality education have on the lives of our young people."
"Because financially capable consumers ultimately contribute to a stable economic and financial system as well as improve their own financial situations, it's clear that the Federal Reserve has a significant stake in financial education," he added.
When Mr Bernanke makes his annual speech at Jackson Hole, the world will focus on him. From economists to analysts, from policymakers to critics, everyone is waiting to see what the Federal Reserve may do to spur a listless economy.
In the semiannual monetary policy report to the Congress in July, Mr Bernanke said: "The Federal Reserve remains in close communication with our European counterparts. Although the politics are complex, we believe that the European authorities have both strong incentives and sufficient resources to resolve the crisis."
"European developments that resulted in a significant disruption in global financial markets would inevitably pose significant challenges for our financial system and our economy," he added.
Most analysts do not expect any drastic measures ahead of a rate-setting meeting scheduled for September 12-13.
So will Mr Bernanke deliver? The jury is out on that one, but global markets hope former US President George W. Bush was right when he said: "Ben Bernanke is the right man to build on the record Alan Greenspan has established."
Story first published:
August 31, 2012 20:14 IST