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Wall Street cheers Bernanke’s re-nomination

By Ric Bohy

August 26, 2009 at 8:38am

Wall Street appeared to approve of President Obama’s break from his Martha’s Vineyard vacation Tuesday when he gave a big atta-boy to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, nominating him for a second term as boss of the U.S. central bank.

Ending speculation that the flak over Bernanke’s ad hoc bailouts of the financial industry and tempting inflation with low, low interest rates would cause him to be sloughed off as a political liability, Obama praised him for “bold action and outside-the-box thinking that has helped put the brakes on our economic freefall.

“Our auto industry is showing signs of life,” Obama said, using the opportunity to promote signs of economic recovery. “Business investment is showing signs of stabilizing. Our housing market and credit markets have been saved from collapse.”

Ben S. Bernanke
Ben S. Bernanke

The financial markets opened higher Tuesday on advance word of Bernanke’s nomination for a second term, which requires Senate approval. Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, predicted an easy confirmation. Even persistent Bernanke critic Christopher Dodd, the Connecticut Democrat who heads the Senate Banking Committee, gave a measured thumbs-up to the selection.

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

Republican members of Dodd’s committee also showed early signs of backing the nomination. Sen. Bob Corker, of Tennessee, said Bernanke “hasn’t made all the right calls” during his wind-whipped first term, but “has earned the right to see this through and lead the Federal Reserve through these volatile times.”

If confirmed, Bernanke, 55, will begin his new four-year term Jan. 31. President George W. Bush first appointed him to succeed Alan Greenspan, who retired as Fed chairman after serving from 1987 to 2006.

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