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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bernanke Named as U.S. Fed Chief

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President George W. Bush nominated top White House economic adviser Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board on Monday to succeed the near-legendary Alan Greenspan.

"The decisions of the Fed affect the lives and livelihood of all Americans," Bush said at the White House as Bernanke and Greenspan looked on. He said his choice "commands deep respect in the financial community."

It was the third time in as many years the president had turned to the 51-year-old Bernanke for a sensitive post. Bush named him to the Fed board in 2002, then made him chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers earlier this year.

The appointment is subject to Senate confirmation, and Bush called for swift action.

"If I am confirmed by the Senate, I will do everything in my power, in collaboration with Fed colleagues, to help assure the continued prosperity and stability of the American economy," Bernanke, a Harvard-educated economist, said.

"My first priority will be to maintain continuity with the policy and policy strategies under the Greenspan era," Bernanke added.

Greenspan, who became chairman in 1987, completes his term as chairman on Jan. 31. By naming a successor more than three months in advance, Bush appeared to be trying to clear the path for a smooth transition.

Whatever the Senate's reaction, U.S. investors liked what they heard. Stocks rose as word of Bernanke's appointment circulated in advance of the presidential announcement.

"Over the course of a career marked by great accomplishment, Ben has done path-breaking work in the field of monetary policy, taught advanced economics at some of our top universities, and served with distinction on the Fed's Board of Governors," Bush said.

"He's earned a reputation for intellectual rigor and integrity. He commands deep respect in the global financial community. And he will be an outstanding chairman of the Federal Reserve."

Bush praised Greenspan as well. "For nearly two decades, Chairman Greenspan has shepherded our economy through its highs and its lows. Under his steady chairmanship, the United States economy has come through a stock market crash, financial crises, from Mexico to Asia, two recessions, corporate scandals, and shocks ranging from devastating natural disasters to a terrorist attack in the heart of America's financial center," he said.

Bernanke has a reputation as a straight-talking economist and a Republican who avoids telegraphing any ideology. At the Fed, Bernanke has pushed for the central bank to be more specific in its inflation objectives; Greenspan has opposed setting a numerical target.

A summa cum laude graduate of Harvard University in 1975, Bernanke received his doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1979. During his years in Boston, he focused on the economic underpinnings of the Great Depression and the losing track record of the city's beloved baseball team, the Red Sox.

"Economics is a very difficult subject," Bernanke once said. "I've compared it to trying to learn how to repair a car when the engine is running."