Obama: Bernanke will return

THE WHITE House yesterday said it was confident that Ben Bernanke would be confirmed for a second term, as it sought to see off a last minute swell of opposition to the chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Bernanke, a survivor of the Bush administration, is under fire for his handling of the economic crisis and there are fears he could struggle to get enough support in the Senate before his term runs out on 31 January.

Senators are nervous about backing Bernanke, who has become a lightning conductor for public anger over the banking bailout and soaring unemployment. Politicians from both sides of the house are increasingly jittery ahead of the mid-term elections in November, especially after the Democrats lost one of their safest seats in Massachusetts last week. But White House adviser David Axelrod yesterday said that the President was confident he could coral enough support for Bernanke, adding he had “offered very strong and steady leadership during this crisis without
which we also may have slipped into the abyss”.

If Bernanke fails to get enough support, it would be a major upset that could send global markets into a tailspin. According to the latest tally, 27 senators have said they would vote to confirm Bernanke, while 16 have said they will oppose him. The rest of the 100-strong senate have not said how they will vote. He needs 60 votes to win confirmation.