Bernanke suggests his tenure as Fed chief is winding down

Washington - Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says he's "spoken to the president a bit" about his future and that he feels no personal responsibility to stay at the helm until the Fed winds down its unprecedented policies to stimulate the economy.

"I don't think that I'm the only person in the world who can manage the exit," Bernanke said when asked at a news conference in Washington if he's discussed his plans with President Obama. His term expires at the end of January.

Bernanke's comments Wednesday meshed with the views of some of Obama's economic and political advisers who said Bernanke, 59, after spending most of his seven years on the job battling a financial crisis and its aftermath, is exhausted and wants to return to private life. The current and former administration officials asked to not be identified to describe the private conversations.

Bernanke, a former Princeton University professor, also said he didn't feel personally responsible to lead the Fed when it unwinds its balance sheet.

Bernanke, a student of the Great Depression, took steps unprecedented in the Fed's 100-year history to steer the economy through its worst crisis since the 1930s.

He used the Fed's balance sheet to rescue Bear Stearns and American International Group from collapse, while supporting corporations and small businesses with innovative lending programs that kept credit flowing as banks struggled under rising amounts of home-loan delinquencies.

He cut the benchmark lending rate to zero in December 2008 to boost the economy and then continued to provide stimulus with outright bond purchases, expanding the Fed's total assets to a record $3.17 trillion.

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