Bernanke to Remain Fed Chief After Close Vote

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Ben Bernanke has won confirmation for his second term as Federal Reserve chairman.

The U.S. Senate voted 70 to 30 to confirm him. That's the closest vote ever to confirm a Fed chairman.

The Federal Reserve was created by an act of Congress in 1913 after a series of bank panics struck the nation. The Fed is an independent agency that is supposedly to operate outside of politics, but its chairman is often targeted by lawmakers when the economy falls.

"Although the Fed can print money, it can't print political capital," said Karen Shaw Petrou, managing partner at Federal Financial Analytics, a consulting firm that advises financial institutions.

Bernanke's opponents said Fed policy contributed to the housing bubble, and he missed signs of the financial meltdown.

"Bernanke fiddled while our markets burned," said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-AL.

But Bernanke's supporters said he helped avoid a deeper crisis.

"The chairmanship of Ben Bernanke has in no small measure made it possible for this nation to avoid a catastrophe," said Senate Banking Committee Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn.

Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said he has concerns about the chairman, but he'd rather have Bernanke than a different Obama appointment.

After Thursday's vote, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said, "The Senate did the right thing. Chairman Bernanke will continue to play a vitally important role in guiding the nation's economy."

Bernanke, 56, spent most of his professional career teaching economics at Princeton. He was hired for a job at the Federal Reserve in Washington by then-Chairman Alan Greenspan. President George W. Bush appointed Bernanke as chairman and he was re-nominated by President Barack Obama.

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