Analysis: A Romney win would likely change little at Federal Reserve

Sun Apr 1, 2012 7:57pm EDT
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By Ann Saphir and Patricia Zengerle

(Reuters) - For all the derision Republican presidential hopefuls have heaped on the Federal Reserve, a November win by lead contender Mitt Romney would likely change little at the central bank, at least in the short term.

That might seem surprising, given the unprecedented barrage of criticism levied this campaign season at Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, whose aggressive efforts to support the economy have sparked accusations that he is setting the table for future inflation.

Texas Governor Rick Perry, who has since dropped out of the race, called Bernanke's policies "treasonous." Former Georgia Congressman Newt Gingrich, who is laboring on, has vowed to fire him. Another long shot, Representative Ron Paul of Texas wants to take the Fed offline, permanently.

Even Romney, by far the favorite to clinch the Republican nomination to oppose President Barack Obama in the November election, has faulted Bernanke's easy-money policies for hurting the dollar.

"I wouldn't keep Ben Bernanke in office," the former Massachusetts governor said in October, a stance the campaign confirms he still holds.

But such rhetoric is likely to fade, analysts say.

"I don't think he'll be as critical of Bernanke once he's the nominee," said Greg Valliere, chief political strategist at Potomac Research. "If there was even a hint that he was leaning on the Fed, it would not be well received by the markets. And Romney has to know this."

Economists say the Fed's ability to do its two jobs - fighting inflation and boosting employment - rests largely on its political independence, which officials at the central bank guard jealously.   Continued...

Republican U.S. presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney shakes hands with supporters at his "Super Tuesday" primary election night rally in Boston, March 6, 2012. REUTERS/Brian Snyder