NEW YORK - Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who helped steer the U.S. economy through its darkest days since the Great Depression, was named Time magazine's 2009 Person of the Year on Wednesday.

The recession was the story of the year. Without Ben Bernanke ... it would have been a lot worse, Time managing editor Richard Stengel said in a statement.

We've rarely had such a perfect revision of the cliche that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Bernanke didn't just learn from history; he wrote it himself and was damned if he was going to repeat it.

Bernanke, 56, a former Princeton University professor, is an expert on the Great Depression.

(Reporting by Eric Beech in Washington, Editing by Howard Goller)