I'm a little surprised but ultimately pleased to see that President Obama will apparently announce tomorrow that he's reappointing Ben Bernanke as the chairman of the Federal Reserve. Bernanke's first term ends in 2010; he was appointed by President Bush in 2006. The New York Times:
[A] senior official said Mr. Obama did not offer the job to anyone else, even though a number of high-powered Democratic economists were considered potentially strong candidates to replace him.
Why else am I pleased? Because I hold the same rule for Brad DeLong as he holds for Paul Krugman1, and Brad DeLong is quoted in the AP's story as saying he can't think of anyone better for the job.
So, why surprised, then? Bernanke doesn't come without risks or detractors -- in fact, I'd bet a few of them will sound off in the comments below (and I look forward to it). He's not particularly well-liked in Congress, but that's partly because putting blame for the current economic mess onto the Fed chair absolves that same Congress (looking at you, Christopher Dodd) from taking any responsibility themselves. And he's a hold over from the Bush administration, which doesn't earn anyone points in the current climate.
Yet for all his faults, Bernanke seems the safest choice at the moment. The others under consideration -- Summers, maybe Janet Yellen from the San Fran Fed -- could probably do the same job just as well, but I'm not sure there's conclusive proof that they'd do a better or even substantially different job. (Well, Summers might be less likely to do the heart-warming "here's my childhood home" tour on "60 Minutes"). Ezra Klein (following E.J. Dionne) had an interesting short rumination today about the fact that preventing a serious crisis doesn't earn as much acclaim as rescuing the country after the crisis did. This is the story of Ben Bernanke so far.
1. Namely: "1. Paul Krugman's analysis is correct. 2. If you think that Paul Krugman's analysis is incorrect, see rule number 1." The Efficient Krugman Hypothesis.