US banking chief Bernanke wins 2nd term

January 29, 2010 00:38

Embattled Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke won confirmation for a second term Thursday, but only by the closest vote ever for the crucial post and after withering criticism from US lawmakers for bailing out Wall Street while other Americans suffered in recession.

The US Senate confirmed Bernanke for a new four-year term by a 70-30 vote, a seemingly solid majority but 14 votes worse than the closest previous vote for a Fed chairman.

The Senate battle over Bernanke's confirmation has been a test of central bank independence, a crucial element if the Fed is to carry out unpopular but economically essential policies. Its decisions on interest rates can have immense consequences, from the success or failure of the largest companies to the typical home-buyer's ability to get an affordable loan to the price of cereal at the grocery store or gas at the corner station.

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