By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama hinted in an interview aired on Monday that he may be looking for a new chief of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank, saying current Chairman Ben Bernanke has stayed a lot longer than he had originally planned.
Obama, speaking to Charlie Rose, host of a PBS interview program, compared Bernanke to longtime FBI Director Robert Mueller, who agreed to stay two years longer than he had planned and is to leave in the coming months.
"Well, I think Ben Bernanke's done an outstanding job. Ben Bernanke's a little bit like Bob Mueller, the head of the FBI - where he's already stayed a lot longer than he wanted or he was supposed to," Obama said.
Asked whether he would reappoint Bernanke if he wanted to keep the job, Obama did not answer directly.
"He has been an outstanding partner, along with the White House, in helping us recover much stronger than, for example, our European partners, from what could have been an economic crisis of epic proportions," Obama said.
Bernanke, who has tried to nurse along the ailing U.S. economy through the 2008 financial crisis, is widely expected to step down when his second term as chairman expires at the end of January.
Obama is said to be considering a number of monetary experts for the job, including Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen, former Obama and Clinton aide Lawrence Summers, and former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
An announcement could come as early as this fall, to give the Fed nominee time to get through Senate confirmation by the time Bernanke's term is up.
(Additional reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)