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January 31st was a momentous day for financial markets It was Alan Greenspans last day as Chairman of the Federal Reserve without a doubt the worlds most important financial job After an 18 year tenure he will be replaced by Ben Bernanke The Chairman of the Federal Reserve is so important because he chairs the Federal Open Markets Committee FOMC the body that sets US interest rates wwwocbccom US interest rates are important because they represent the price of money in the largest economy in the world they also influence the price of money in many other economies too It is no exaggeration to say that if the FOMC sets interest rates too high it could produce a global recession and if it sets them too low it could allow global inflation to reawaken During his 18 years as Chairman Alan Greenspan came to dominate the FOMC to the point where his views were judged far more important than those of the other members Especially in times of crisis Alan Greenspan got what he wanted in the way of US interest rate policy It remains to be seen if Ben Bernanke will dominate the FOMC in quite the same way Regardless of if Bernanke lives up to the standard set by Greenspan he is the right man for the job The economy is growing but slowing Consumers are spending but are more indebted than ever Home values are dizzying but the market is cooling No one seems to know whether inflation is rising flat or simply no longer relevant Basically its a tough time to be Americas central banker Now double the pressure Former Princeton University and White House economist Ben Bernanke not only takes over as chairman of the Federal Reserve he replaces a man many regard as historys finest - Alan Greenspan Chairman Greenspan Vice President Dick Cheney said in an effort to reassure Wall Street that it would be business as
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