Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, 57, has been on the hot seat, essentially since he took office on Feb. 1, 2006. Less flamboyant than predecessor Alan Greenspan, he was at the helm when the nation's economy crashed on the rocks in 2007 and continued to flounder since then.
He has been criticized for bailing out Wall Street and, most recently, for injecting an additional $600 billion into the banking system to give the slow recovery a boost.
Bernanke favors reducing the federal budget deficit, particularly by reforming the Social Security and Medicare entitlement programs, which has senior citizens in an uproar. His tenure has been saddled with a period of unprecedented stock-market volatility and an unemployment rate of more than 9%.He argues that he has been doing his job by keeping inflation under control. On Wednesday, he said that the pace of economic growth is likely to be "frustratingly slow," after the Fed downgraded its forecast for the next two years. That didn't make him any new friends.