With Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in the final months of his second term, President Barack Obama has offered a strong hint that the central bank chief's tenure is coming to an end, with no extension.
Whether in congressional testimony, or when peppered by reporters' questions at his news conferences, Bernanke has steadfastly avoided direct comment on the question. At issue is whether Bernanke might consider staying on beyond the end of his term as chairman, which runs out in January 2014.
What Obama said -- and didn't say
At the end of an interview with Obama, PBS host Charlie Rose told the president, "Some people would like to see you announce that you are reappointing Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Fed."
According to a transcript, Obama replied, "Well, I think Ben Bernanke's done an outstanding job. Ben Bernanke's a little bit like Bob Mueller, the head of the FBI … where he’s already stayed a lot longer than he wanted or he was supposed to."
Rose then asked, "But if he wanted to be reappointed, you would reappoint him?" That's where Obama's relative silence may have been loud and clear. Said the president, "He has been an outstanding partner along with the White House in helping us recover much stronger than, for example, our European partners, from what could have been an economic crisis of epic proportions."
The Fed boss may have more to say
Bernanke himself will have another opportunity to address the question of his future directly, at his Wednesday afternoon news conference following the Fed's two-day policy-setting session.
His first term as chairman began in February 2006, after he was nominated by President George W. Bush. He also served as chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers in the Bush administration.
Bernanke, who turns 60 in December, spent his career in academia before serving in Washington, D.C. It is widely speculated that Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen is his most likely successor. The decision on the nomination is up to Obama. The nominee must then be confirmed by the Senate.
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