According to media reports, President Barack Obama is still considering several candidates for the position of chairman of the Federal Reserve. He has also indicated that whoever takes on the role will need to focus on reducing unemployment rates as that is significant in keeping the economy on the rebound during the present time.
During a news conference at the White House on Friday, the president indicated that both former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and current Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen are highly qualified for the job, but others are also being considered. He indicated the final decision will be made in the fall, which is quickly approaching.
Obama acknowledged that many people feel as though Summers has “an inside track” to the job after he was given a strong defense last week at a closed door meeting with White House Democrats. However, the president indicates he was just standing up for Summers because “he was getting slapped around for no reason.”
Summers has served as head of the National Economic Council during the president’s first term and as Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton. Current Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s term ends on Jan. 31, 2014. The president’s choice to succeed Bernanke would have to be confirmed by Senate.
Reports indicate that during his meeting with White House Democrats, the president said former Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Don Kohn was also being considered for the job. The administration’s search for a Bernanke successor has been unusually public whereas previous administrators have used a behind-the-scene process in the search for a Federal Reserve chairman.
A group of liberal Democratic senators have written to the president and urged him to pick Yellen for the role. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has also spoken on Yellen’s behalf. Summers has attracted support from former officials from the administrations of both, Obama and Clinton, who said he has excellent crisis-management skills.
Obama has indicated that his main objective is to find someone who strongly supports the dual mandate of keeping inflation in check while working to improve employment, which is considered the facets of the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate. The president has noted unemployment is the most significant priority at this time for the economy. Many experts indicate other aspects of the economy are faring well, but the unemployment levels have not seemed to improve as quickly as most have wanted or anticipated.