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Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks during a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. - 


JEREMY HOBSON: For the second time since the end of the financial crisis, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke appeared on the CBS news program "60 Minutes." Bernanke is taking a more visible role after a whole lot of criticism of his policies from economists and politicians.

Marketplace's David Gura reports from Washington.

DAVID GURA: These days, you can find the former Princeton professor back in the classroom, lecturing at colleges and universities.

But last night, he spoke to a bigger audience during a rare TV appearance.

He's been taking the most heat for a plan to buy $600 billion worth of securities. His critics say he's just printing money.

BEN BERNANKE: We're not printing money. The amount of currency in circulation is not changing. The money supply is not changing in any significant way. What we're doing is lowering interest rates by buying treasury securities and by lowering interest rates we hope to stimulate the economy to grow faster.

What the Fed chairman says is important and widely listened to. Because his decisions affect not only world markets, but credit card rates and mortgages.

And what's especially interesting is that, in the "60 Minutes" interview, Bernanke continued to talk about topics outside the Fed's policy purview. He answered questions about the income gap in the U.S. And said it might be wise for the government to take a hard look at the tax code. One thing Bernanke decided not to weigh in on is what he thinks should happen to the Bush-era tax cuts.

In Washington, I'm David Gura for Marketplace.

Follow David Gura at @davidgura