Obama hints Bernanke likely to leave Fed in January

Tuesday 18 June 2013 17.45
Ben Bernanke is expected to step down when his second term as chairman expires at the end of January
Ben Bernanke is expected to step down when his second term as chairman expires at the end of January

US President Barack Obama has hinted in an interview that he may be looking for a new chief of the US Federal Reserve, saying Ben Bernanke has stayed a lot longer than the current chairman had originally planned.

Mr Obama, who was speaking to the PBS television network, compared Mr Bernanke to FBI Director Robert Mueller, who agreed to stay two years longer than he had planned and is to leave in the coming months.

"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," Mr Obama said.

Asked whether he would reappoint Mr Bernanke if he wanted to keep the job, Mr Obama did not answer directly.

"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," Mr Obama said.

Mr Bernanke, who has tried to nurse along the ailing US economy since the 2008 financial crisis, is widely expected to step down when his second term as chairman expires at the end of January.

Expanding on Mr Obama's remarks, a White House official said Mr Obama's remarks were reflecting his admiration for the length and depth of Mr Bernanke's commitment to serve as Fed chair in a difficult period and at a significant personal sacrifice.

The official said Mr Obama was making the point that Mr Bernanke worked through the stressful financial crisis of 2008 and is in his eighth year as Fed chair.

He said he has likely stayed longer and endured more than he might have personally have wanted to out of a sense of duty and public service.

The official said Mr Bernanke has been a vital and excellent partner in helping to bring the US back from the brink of depression. No decisions have been made about any personnel decision involving the Fed, the official added.

Mr Obama is said to be considering a number of monetary experts for the job, including Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen, former US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, and former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.