Page last updated at 22:05 GMT, Thursday, 28 January 2010

Ben Bernanke second term confirmed at Federal Reserve

Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve chairman
Mr Bernanke's confirmation required a simple majority vote

Ben Bernanke has been approved to serve a second four-year term as chairman of the US Federal Reserve, the country's powerful central bank.

The US Senate voted 70-30 in favour of Mr Bernanke, handing him the narrowest victory margin in decades.

He has been criticised for not doing enough to prevent the economic crisis and for supporting the bank bailouts.

But his supporters say that without his efforts after the crash, the US would be in far worse shape than it is now.

'Vital role'

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the Senate had done the "right thing" by confirming Mr Bernanke.

"Chairman Bernanke will continue to play a vitally important role in guiding the nation's economy," he said in a statement.

But Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse said it was time the Fed used its "enormous powers" to help people.

It was time to "pivot from the necessary rescue of our major financial institutions to the equally, if not more necessary, help to America's families," he was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

Mr Bernanke replaced Alan Greenspan as chairman in 2006.

His nomination had earlier cleared a procedural hurdle with a 77-23 vote.

The US Federal Reserve wields considerable influence over Americans as it has the power to set interest rates which influence inflation and employment, says the BBC's Imtiaz Tyab in Washington.

Recent attacks by lawmakers from both sides of the political divide on the central bank have become a real test of its independence, our correspondent says.

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