Fed boss future in doubt

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The Independent Online

Financial markets faced up to the prospect of prolonged uncertainty over the chairmanship of the Federal Reserve, as senior Republicans on Capitol Hill came out against the reappointment of Ben Bernanke.

Mr Bernanke's term expires at the end of January and a Senate vote is not expected until after the middle of next month. Yesterday, he came up against unusually strong opposition to his nomination for a second term from members of the powerful Senate banking committee, which voted by 16 to seven to back him.

Richard Shelby, the most senior Republican on the panel said he would be voting no, citing the Fed's failure to spot the sub-prime mortgage crisis and its bailout of Wall Street.

"I strongly disapprove of some of the past deeds of the Federal Reserve while Ben Bernanke was a member and its chairman, and I lack confidence in what little planning for the future he has articulated," the senator said.

Several Bernanke supporters said they reserved the right to change their minds. Some senators have launched a campaign to delay a vote beyond January. Mr Bernanke could continue to serve as acting chairman beyond the end of his term.