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At his swearing-in, Bernanke vows to uphold Fed's mission

Fighting inflation, fostering growth are key, chief says

WASHINGTON -- New Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke vowed yesterday to do his best to carry out the central bank's mission of fighting inflation, fostering economic growth, and nurturing a healthy climate for jobs.

''Our mission as set forth by the Congress is a critical one," Bernanke said at his ceremonial swearing-in at the Fed's headquarters. His first day on the job was last Wednesday.

President Bush attended the ceremony, marking only the third visit by a president to the Federal Reserve. Before becoming chief of the Fed, Bernanke, 52, served as the president's top economist as chairman of the White House's Council of Economic Advisers.

''I came to trust his judgment, his calm demeanor and his sly sense of humor," Bush said.

Former Fed chairmen Alan Greenspan and Paul Volcker also attended and were applauded by staff members who lined marble staircases leading to the event, which was held in a two-story atrium. The glass ceiling bore the coat of arms of the United States.

Greenspan, 79, the second-longest serving chairman of the Fed, retired last week after more than 18 years at the helm.

Bush praised Greenspan's stewardship of the economy during that time. Greenspan, he said, was perhaps the only central banker to achieve ''rock star status."

A former Fed governor and Princeton economics professor, Bernanke said he recognized ''taking up the challenge of leading an institution with such weighty responsibilities" and looked forward to working with a staff that possesses ''unmatched expertise and experience."

The Fed's power rests with the staff that make up the institution and is ''far more than any single individual," Bernanke said.

Bernanke goes before Congress next week to deliver the first installment of the Fed's twice-a-year report on the economy. Investors, economists, and politicians will be closely watching his performance.

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