Bernanke to face stormy confirmation hearing

WASHINGTON, December 3, 2009 (AFP) – Lawmakers are likely to vent frustration over the economy and bailout of the financial system Thursday at a Senate confirmation hearing for Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke. The powerful central bank chief is nonetheless expected to win approval for a second four-year term from the Banking Committee and the full Senate, even if the process is stormier than usual.

President Barack Obama in August nominated Bernanke to a second term, hoping to maintain continuity in leadership as the US economy struggles to emerge from its worst recession in decades.

Bernanke is likely to be grilled over the housing bubble that collapsed and sent the financial system into a near-meltdown, and the bailouts of unpopular financial institutions.

The Fed chairman has been a lightning rod for criticism even though many economists argue that he rescued the system from the brink of disaster.

“People send me angry emails about how the Fed chairman should be fired or even thrown in prison,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James & Associates.

Brown said that “there is plenty of blame to go around” for the financial crisis but added: “When you look at what he has done