Bernanke's Concerns: Unemployment, Foreclosures, Credit

By Jeannine Aversa, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke expressed concerns Wednesday about the economic recovery during a ceremonial swearing-in for another four-year term.

In brief remarks to staffers, Bernanke said that while the economy is growing, "far too many people remain unemployed, foreclosures continue at record rates and bank credit continues to contract."

One of the Fed's challenges is protecting its independence from congressional meddling, he said.

Another is making the Fed more open and accountable about its operations. And another is improving its oversight of banks. Lawmakers have complained about deficiencies in those areas.

The Fed "cannot hope" to solve the nation's economic problems on its own, Bernanke said. Both the nation and the central bank as an institution face enormous challenges, he said.

The closed-door event was held at the Fed's stately headquarters. Vice Chairman Donald Kohn administered the oath of office as Bernanke's wife, Anna, looked on. (Because Bernanke's second term is a reappointment, he was not required to be sworn in again. His second term started Feb. 1.)

Bernanke won Senate confirmation for a second four-year term last week — but only after being skewered by some lawmakers for helping rescue Wall Street while ordinary Americans suffered in recession. The 70-30 vote was the closest vote ever for the post.

Bernanke's confirmation battle has been a test of Fed independence. The central bank's decisions on interest rates carry immense consequences for the economy.

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