Bernanke's tough economic challenges
If 2008 was a tough year for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, 2009 is looking no easier as political battles pile on top of tough economic challenges.
With the end of his term looming in January, Bernanke's skill in avoiding pitfalls on both fronts will influence whether he wins another four years at the helm of the Fed.
First, there's the economy: with the U.S. unemployment rate at 9.4 percent and rising, Bernanke faces the challenge of fostering a recovery from an 18-month-old recession with unconventional policies that some worry will ignite inflation.
Then, there's politics: he must convince Congress the Fed deserve a leading role in a restructured financial oversight system even as he addresses criticism of Fed failings before the financial collapse and some actions since.
By Mark Felsenthal