US banking chief Bernanke wins 2nd term

Embattled Federal ReserveChairman Ben Bernanke won confirmation for a second term Thursday, butonly by the closest vote ever for the crucial post and after witheringcriticism from US lawmakers for bailing out Wall Street while otherAmericans suffered in recession.
The US Senate confirmed Bernankefor a new four-year term by a 70-30 vote, a seemingly solid majoritybut 14 votes worse than the closest previous vote for a Fed chairman.
TheSenate battle over Bernanke's confirmation has been a test of centralbank independence, a crucial element if the Fed is to carry outunpopular but economically essential policies. Its decisions oninterest rates can have immense consequences, from the success orfailure of the largest companies to the typical home-buyer's ability toget an affordable loan to the price of cereal at the grocery store orgas at the corner station.
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