The great Andy Busch of BMO Capital Markets draws up a scenario that could see Ben Bernanke get pushed toward the exits:
If Ben Bernanke were running TV ads, taking polls and holding town hall-style meetings, it wouldn’t be any clearer that he’s conducting an explicit reelection campaign for another four-year term as Federal Reserve chairman come next January. Oh, wait a second, he just did hold an unprecedented town hall meeting. And it was one worthy of a presidential candidate charming primary voters in Iowa.
This from Mike Feroli of JPMorgan (bold is mine):
Beyond the issues surrounding the economy and exit strategies, another aspect of the testimony that was of interest was the political angle. Bernanke made his strongest case to date that Fed actions have helped prevent what could otherwise have been an economic catastrophe. His very first sentence of the testimony read “Aggressive policy actions taken around the world last fall may well have averted the collpase of the global financial system.” After listing the notable imporvements in credit markets, he goes on to say “Many of the improvements in financial conditions can be traced, in part, to policy actions taken by the Federal Reserve to encourage the flow of credit.” These statements should be seen in the context of the whithering criticism of the Fed’s conduct of policy, some of that criticism coming from within Congress.
From the WSJ:
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is expected to play a key role in advising President Barack Obama on whether to reappoint Mr. Bernanke. Mr. Geithner has worked closely both with Mr. Bernanke and with the leading alternative for the powerful post — Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury secretary, who is currently the president’s top economic adviser.