Bernanke to be reappointed Fed chief

He's widely credited with averting a second US depression.

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters/File
US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, shown here speaking at the National Press Club in Washington in February, is set to be reappointed to his post by President Obama Tuesday.

For weeks the speculation went back and forth: Would Ben Bernanke get reappointed as chairman of the world's most powerful central bank?

On Tuesday morning, President Obama is to make it official: Mr. Bernanke would get a second four-year term as head of the Federal Reserve.

In retrospect, it seemed inevitable. The former Princeton professor may have been slow to recognize the impact of the housing bubble. But once it burst and financial firms began to fail, he (along with then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson) acted quickly and decisively to flood the markets with money, lowered interest rates, and backstopped teetering financial institutions.

"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,” Mr. Obama was expected to say in prepared remarks during his vacation in Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.

Drawing on his own and others' research on the Great Depression, Bernanke avoided the mistakes of central bankers during that era. History may credit him as one of the key figures (along with Mr. Paulson and his successor at Treasury, Tim Geithner) who kept the US economy from plunging into a new depression.

But the jury is still out. Having navigated the crisis, Bernanke still must steer the American economy back to growth – without engendering some new bubble or imbalance that could bring something worse. It's a tricky balance.

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