The White House is reviewing possible successors for Ben Bernanke, expecting he will not stay on when his term leading the Federal Reserve ends in January, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
The Journal said Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew is quietly assembling a short list of replacements for review together with White House officials, though Bernanke has not said publicly whether he wants to stay on for a third four-year term.
It also said White House officials have already spoken about the process of replacing Bernanke with the Senate, which will have to confirm the next Fed chair.
White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage told the Journal she would not comment on "speculation on any personnel matters until the president has made his decisions and is ready to announce them."
But if true, it would be the strongest sign yet that Bernanke, who shepherded the US economy through its worst crisis since the Great Depression, could depart next year.
Speculation on his future has mounted as the Fed continues its efforts to boost the economy and bring down unemployment, which Bernanke says still remains much too high.
In a television interview on June 17, President Barack Obama praised Bernanke for his performance but avoided directly commenting on his future.
"I think Ben Bernanke's done an outstanding job," Obama told the Charlie Rose Show, a current affairs interview program.
"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," the president said.
The Journal said Obama could still persuade Bernanke to serve a third term.
"But many of Mr. Bernanke's friends and associates believe he wants to step down when his term expires," the Journal said.
The report did not say who was being considered as a replacement, but much speculation centers on the current Fed vice chair, economist Janet Yellen.