Winners & Losers 2009

CNBC's Winners & Losers of 2009  Results

Many of us are feeling much better at the end of 2009 than we were at the beginning of this year when—one way or another—we felt like losers, so we may be in the mood for some predictions about 2010.

At the same time, 2009—which defied the predictions of many--will be a year to remember for years to come and in doing so, it will conjure images of companies and public figures who personified the plight of the nation and the economy.

Predictions '10 - See Complete Coverage

For that reason, we asked you to vote on the big winners and losers of 2009, knowing that in some cases, the difference between the two could be slight, subtle and often in the eye of the beholder—who can be a victim or a beneficiary.

The results of our poll—100,000 votes were cast—partly bear that out. There were a few close votes, some decidedly one-sided ones and a couple surprise outcomes.

There were a handful of big losers as well as big winners. Click through to see the winners and losers of 2009, some of whom will not be around to be judged in 2010.

Ben Bernanke

Ben Bernanke
Chairman, Federal Reserve Board

US Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben S. Bernanke

So much for a toss up over a hero or a goat.

Bernanke fared much better than we expected. He was voted a winner by 52 percent of the 5,400 respondents, the most votes cast for any one candidate.

Apparently, Bernanke is something of a genius, whose innovative initiatives saved the economy and the country. They also point to his self-effacing, plain-talking style (compared to Alan Greenspan) and his efforts to demystify the Fed through greater transparency.

At the same time, critics say he abused the powers of the Fed in providing liquidity to the markets and companies (AIG , Citigroup ), became overtly political in helping execute administration policies (some say partly in the hope of getting nominated for a second term) and has planted the seeds of inflation, for which we’ll pay dearly down the road.

The Fed—and Bernanke—also appear on their way to losing some regulatory authority and independence, as financial sector overhaul legislation progresses through Congress.

Too Big To Fail

Too Big To Fail

Three-decade-old government policy about intervening to save big financial firms.

Perhaps we should have included former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who was only on the job for the first three weeks of 2009, if only because he practiced the too-big-to-fail policy, which is among our big losers, and very likely, contributed to the poor showing of our current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geither.