Bernanke under fire in Congress; blames China

WASHINGTON, February 10, 2011 (AFP) – Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke fended off criticism that he is ignoring the risk of rising prices Wednesday, as he faced a hostile Republican-controlled panel in Congress. “We remain unwaveringly committed to price stability,” Bernanke told the House of Representatives budget committee, rejecting claims that rising prices for food and oil heralded dangerously speeding inflation.

Bernanke — who was appointed by Republican president George W. Bush — sparred with the committee’s Republican members, who warned of the risks from pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into the economy to prop up growth and help reduce unemployment.

“My concern is that the cost of the Fed’s current monetary policy… will come to outweigh the perceived benefits,” said newly installed committee chairman, Republican Paul Ryan.

Flexing his new political muscle, Ryan said there were emerging price pressures and potential economic bubbles, as he challenged Bernanke to respond.

“We are already witnessing a sharp rise in a variety of key global commodities and basic material prices,” Ryan said.

“Some producers here in the United States are starting to feel the cost pressures,