WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Tuesday that the U.S. economy could begin to grow later this year if the government can gradually repair the financial system. His testimony to Congress’ Joint Economic Committee largely echoed statements he’s made in recent months. But this time, Bernanke was a bit more optimistic: He said not just that the recession could end but that the economy could start growing again by year’s end.

Here’s a look at Bernanke’s recent comments on the economy:

May 5 – “We continue to expect economic activity to bottom out, then to turn up later this year,” Bernanke told lawmakers, sounding more confident about the prospects for a recovery later in 2009.

April 14 – “Recently we have seen tentative signs that the sharp decline in economic activity may be slowing,” Bernanke said in a speech at Morehouse College in Atlanta. “To be sure, we will not have a sustainable recovery without a stabilization of our financial system and credit markets.”

April 3 – He said he expects a “gradual resumption of sustainable economic growth.” However, he didn’t say when in remarks to a Fed conference in Charlotte, N.C.

March 15 – “We’ll see the recession coming to an end probably this year,” if the government succeeds in bolstering the banking system, Bernanke said in an interview with CBS TV program “60 Minutes.”

March 10 – The recession was more severe than the Fed had expected, Bernanke acknowledged after a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations. Still, he added there’s a “good chance” the recession could end this year if the government managed to get financial markets to operate more normally again.

March 3 – Testifying to the Senate Budget Committee on the bailout of American International Group Inc., Bernanke didn’t repeat remarks he had made a week earlier that the recession could end this year if the government succeeded in turning around wobbly financial markets.

Feb. 24 – Bernanke said he hoped the recession will end this year, but that there were significant risks to that forecast.

Any economic turnaround will hinge on the success of the Fed and the Obama administration in getting credit and financial markets to operate more normally again. “

Jan. 13 – “Fiscal policy can stimulate economic activity, but a sustained recovery will also require a comprehensive plan to stabilize the financial system and restore normal flows of credit,” Bernanke said at the London School of Economics.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.