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August 26, 2009

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Home » Business » Economy

Obama sticks with Bernanke

PRAISING him as the man who shepherded the United States past the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, United States President Barack Obama yesterday announced plans to keep Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in his job for another term.

Bernanke, credited with guiding the US economy away from its worst recession since the 1930s, now faces the challenge of meeting the White House expectations to guide an economic recovery critical to Obama's legacy. Widely lauded for taking aggressive action to avert an economic catastrophe after the financial meltdown last year, Bernanke stood beside the president while Obama took a brief break from his summer vacation.

"Ben approached a financial system on the verge of collapse with calm and wisdom; with bold action and outside-the-box thinking that has helped put the brakes on our economic free fall," Obama said. "Almost none of the decisions he or any of us made have been easy."

In sticking with Bernanke, Obama is looking to reassure the financial sector as well as foreign central banks that his administration has no plans to change course on its largely well-received approach to rescuing the industry from its meltdown.

Bernanke masterminded what is now seen as a successful strategy to lift the economy out of recession, unlock credit and stabilize financial markets. But he's not without his detractors, and the top Democrat on the Senate banking committee warned of a thorough hearing before Bernanke would take his post for a second time.

Many on Wall Street and in academic circles believe that Bernanke would be the best choice to lead the US into a sustainable recovery and would be in the best position to figure out when and how to reel in the trillions of dollars pumped into the economy to battle the crisis.

Obama joined the praise for a Fed chairman whose early tenure was as complicated as the crisis facing the banks he sought to save.

"The man next to me, Ben Bernanke, has led the Fed through the one of the worst financial crises that this nation and this world have ever faced," Obama said. "As an expert on the causes of the Great Depression, I'm sure Ben never imagined that he would be part of a team responsible for preventing another. But because of his background, his temperament, his courage, and his creativity, that's exactly what he has helped to achieve."

Bernanke voiced his gratitude to Obama "for his unwavering support for a strong and independent Federal Reserve."

Bernanke said the objective remains to restore a "stable" financial environment.


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