Obama renominates Bernanke, says U.S. Fed chief braked “economic freefall”

August 25, 2009

U.S. President Barack Obama nominates Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke (R) for a second term, in Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts on the island of Martha's Vineyard August 25, 2009. REUTERS/Jason Reed   (UNITED STATES BUSINESS POLITICS) By Ross Colvin and Patricia Zengerle
OAK BLUFFS, Mass., Aug 25 (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama nominated Ben Bernanke to a second term as Federal Reserve chairman on Tuesday, entrusting him with guiding the economy out of the worst downturn since the Great Depression.

Obama interrupted his vacation on the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard to make the announcement with Bernanke at his side.

“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 freefall,” Obama said.

U.S. stock index futures were slightly higher on Tuesday on the news. There was no significant impact on financial markets in Asia and Europe, however, where investors were more focused on whether a global economic recovery was really under way.

Obama is counting on Bernanke to nurse the economy back to health at a time when unemployment, home foreclosures and bank failures are still mounting.

Obama’s Democrats control the Senate, but Bernanke has faced criticism from lawmakers of both parties who say he has gone too far in extending Fed support that will be difficult to unwind, threatening future inflation.

“While I have had serious differences with the Federal Reserve over the past few years, I think reappointing Chairman Bernanke is probably the right choice,” Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd said in a statement.

Dodd vowed a “thorough and comprehensive” hearing to consider the nomination.
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