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“The reason I think that markets have improved so much since 2009 is because Fed policy and other policies have succeeded in providing a stronger economy with low inflation,” he said. “Many people think of the United States as one of the bright spots in the world. We’re doing better than a lot of other industrial countries, and while we’re certainly not where we want to be, at least we’re going in the right direction.”

Mr. Bernanke made his remarks Wednesday as part of the Fed’s twice yearly report to Congress on monetary policy. The appearance, which will be repeated before the Senate on Thursday, may be one of Mr. Bernanke’s last before Congress if, as rumored, he decides to retire at the end of his current term as chairman in January.