The post-financial crisis era will forever be known as the “Ben Bernanke age” as defined by near zero interest rate policies, quantitative easing and pushback from upset lawmakers and citizens.
But it’s clear that Bernanke’s hawkish commitment to buying mortgage-backed securities turned him into one of the most historic Fed leaders since the central bank’s inception.
Love Bernanke or hate him, his presence is a hard one to replace, and the list of potential replacements is just as controversial as the chairman’s long-term commitment to QE3.
In the lead is Janet Yellen, vice chair of the Board of Governors for the Federal Reserve System. Right now, analysts see her as Obama's top pick for a Bernanke replacement.
"If I was a betting man, my money would be on Yellen," said Mark Calabria with the Cato Institute. "The president is going to look for someone who is not going to spook the markets. It’s not a nomination that you’re going to go big and bold on. I really think there is going to be an emphasis on who is currently on the board or has been on the board."
Yellen would be the obvious pick since she is already a Federal Reserve Board Governor – and a party who has sat elbow-to-elbow with Bernanke, giving her insight as to where the Fed has been and where it’s going.
"I think it does seem as if Janet Yellen continues to be generally viewed as the favorite, with the next most likely being Larry Summers," added Ed Mills, a government policy analyst with FBR Capital Markets. "There is a lot of support for Yellen, but I think there has been some concern about whether or not she is the right person for the job, although I have not heard a good reason supporting that."
But because of this reluctance, Larry Summers’ name continues to surface.