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Should Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke be reappointed?

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For Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, 2009 may be a tough year as political battles pile on top of tough economic challenges.

Bernanke must juggle a host of problems as he tries to revive the economy. With the U.S. unemployment rate at 9.4 percent and still climbing, he faces the challenge of recovering from an 18-month-old recession with unconventional policies that some worry will ignite inflation.

On the political front, he has the daunting task of convincing Congress the Fed deserves a leading role in a restructured financial oversight system even as he addresses criticism of Fed failings before the financial collapse and some actions since.

Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd said giving the Fed more authority “is like having a parent giving his son a bigger, faster car, right after he crashed the family station wagon.”

Pinching pennies

Piggy BankTimes are tough for Americans as their wallets take multiple blows from the housing slump, rising oil and food prices, growing unemployment, inflation fears and recession talk. Many homeowners are facing negative equity, with mortgages bigger than their property’s value.

Even as recently as November, households were going into debt to maintain spending, but new numbers show that Americans are saving at the highest rate since March 1995.

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