Obama praised the Fed chief's background, temperament and "out-of-the-box thinking" for helping "put the brakes on our [US] economic freefall", in a speech in Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts yesterday. Taken together, the actions of the Fed and the government to stabilise the financial system, to repair credit markets and restructure the auto industry represent a "bold, persistent experimentation" that has "brought the economy back from the brink", Obama added.
Bernanke thanked the President for "his unwavering support for a strong and independent Federal Reserve". He also praised Fed staff and said that during the credit crisis the regulator had been "bold or deliberate as circumstances demanded".
Bernanke was sworn in as Fed chairman in February 2006, replacing Alan Greenspan, who had held the role since August 1987. He is also chairman of the Federal Open Market Committee. Between June 2005 and January 2006, he was chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers.
He is a veteran of the Federal Reserve System, having held numerous roles, including member of the board of governors from 2002 to 2005, as well as being a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Banks of Philadelphia (1987-89), Boston (1989-90), and New York (1990-91, 1994-96). He was also a member of the academic advisory panel at the New York Fed between 1990 and 2002.
His current tenure as chairman was due to expire on January 31, next year. Final approval for a second term is still required from the US senate.