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White House Weighs Bernanke's Future

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
With Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's term expiring in January, the White House faces a big decision on whether to reappoint him.

Bernanke has taken hits among lawmakers for his handling of the federal bailout of the financial system, but he's enjoying solid support on Wall Street, according to a Wall Street Journal report Thursday ($).

Forty-three of 46 private sector economists support Bernanke's reappointment, according to a Journal poll, though even some supporters noted his decisions have not been flawless.

Bernanke proponents cite his bipartisan efforts to lift the country out of a severe financial crisis as well as a desire not to "change horses midstream." But his reappointment will require Senate confirmation, where he's drawm criticism from key figures on both sides of the aisle.

So as President Obama considers Bernanke's future, the Journal looked at some possible alternatives:

Lawrence Summers, director of the White House's National Economic Council - Serving as Mr. Obama's top economic adviser, Summers is a talented economic thinker. But, as the Journal notes, "his blunt, domineering style makes some bristle and could be greeted with trepidation at the Fed."

As Nicholas Perna of Perna Associates described his support of Bernanke to the Journal: "Stated differently: Don't appoint Summers."

Janet Yellen, president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank - The journal notes her strong academic credentials and experience serving as an adviser to President Clinton and as a Fed governor under Alan Greenspan. But her concern about inflation being "too low, not too high, over the next several years" may not go over well on Wall Street.

Other candidates cited in the Journal report – Christina Romer, chairman of Mr. Obama's Council of Economic Advisers; and Roger Ferguson and Alan Blinder, both former Fed vice chairmen.

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