Questions on Fed succession nag in background at Jackson Hole

Sun Aug 25, 2013 1:07pm EDT
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By Alister Bull

JACKSON HOLE, Wyoming (Reuters) - Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers never came near the Federal Reserve's annual monetary policy symposium in Jackson Hole this weekend, but his name was often raised on the sidelines amid speculation over his possible selection as the next Fed chairman.

How would Summers, a Harvard professor with a formidable reputation for brilliance but no patience for people he disagrees with, treat his Fed colleagues?

How was fellow candidate Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen, who moderated the discussion on Saturday, standing up to the pressure of competing with him?

When will President Barack Obama make up his mind on who he wants to nominate, and has the drawn-out process over the selection done any harm to the institution's morale?

Summers, Yellen and former Fed Vice Chair Don Kohn are among the candidates Obama is considering to replace Fed chief Ben Bernanke when his terms ends in January.

At the prestigious central banker's retreat in Wyoming's stunning Grand Teton National Park which wrapped up on Saturday, both Yellen and Kohn, who also attended, steered away from discussing Bernanke's succession with reporters.

Yellen, clearly aware of being under intense media scrutiny, seemed determined not to say anything that could be construed as news in her public remarks.

The rules of the event dictate that anything said during the sessions is on the record, and everything else is off the record, unless otherwise agreed.   Continued...

Lawrence Summers, director of the National Economic Council makes a point on "Face The Nation" in Washington, April 25, 2010. REUTERS/Chris Usher-Face the Nation/Handout