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Bernanke picks up more support in confirmation battle

Some of Ben S. Bernanke’s opponents are refusing to back down in their fight to deny him another term as Federal Reserve chairman, but the odds of his confirmation by the Senate seem to be rising.

U.S. financial markets have steadied today after diving on Friday, when Bernanke’s job as chairman appeared to be in jeopardy because of eroding Senate support.

Bens The Dow Jones industrial average was up 60 points, or 0.6%, to 10,232 at about 10 a.m. PST, after tumbling 2.1% on Friday.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today said she would vote for the embattled Fed chief, saying in a statement that Bernanke “has been helpful to the recovery and, for reasons of stability and continuity, should be reconfirmed.”

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) also issued a statement of support for Bernanke today.

A Reuters poll earlier today found 29 senators either committed to voting for Bernanke or leaning in that direction, while 17 senators were outright opposed to him or leaning that way.

A Dow Jones News Service poll late Sunday found 31 senators in favor and 17 opposed.

Bernanke will need 60 votes to be confirmed.

In a letter today, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tried to rally uncommitted senators against the 56-year-old Fed chief, listing four reasons to vote against him. Reason No. 1: Bernanke is “Wall Street’s candidate” for the job, Sanders said, asserting that Bernanke “played a major role in the deregulatory efforts that enabled major financial institutions to engage in reckless and illegal behavior.”

Bernanke’s term as chairman expires on Sunday. If the Senate hasn’t voted to reconfirm him by then, the  Fed’s vice chairman, Donald Kohn, could take over as interim chairman.

Even if he were to lose the chairmanship Bernanke would remain on the Fed board unless he decided to walk away altogether: His term as a member of the board doesn’t expire until 2020.

-- Tom Petruno

Photo: Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke. Credit: Karen Bleier / AFP / Getty Images

 
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