US President Barack Obama praised US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke for his performance on Monday, but did not say whether Bernanke would stay on at the end of his term next year.
“I think Ben Bernanke’s done an outstanding job,” Obama said in an interview on the Charlie Rose Show, a current affairs interview program broadcast on the PBS TV network.
“Ben Bernanke’s a little bit like Bob Muller, the head of the FBI, where he’s already stayed a lot longer than he wanted or he was supposed to,” he said.
However, when pressed to say whether he would reappoint Bernanke, a former Princeton University economics professor, as Fed chairman when his second four-year term expires on Jan. 31 next year, Obama — who would nominate the replacement — demurred.
“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 president said.
After nearly eight years of shepherding the Fed and the economy through an economic crash and deep crisis in the financial system, and now straining to bring the economy back to life, Bernanke’s future has been a focus of great speculation.
Engaging and professorial, he has hinted that he would like to go back to Princeton and a quieter life.
However, with the Fed still stuck in a balancing act of supporting the economy with its huge easy-money program and watching for potential inflation threats that could come from that, many think Bernanke’s presence is still needed to calibrate policy and maintain continuity.