Ap Yellen Obama

President Barack Obama listens as Janet Yellen, vice chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington on Wednesday. AP Photo/Charles Dharapak.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen says more needs to be done to strengthen the U.S. economy. She made her remarks as President Obama today nominated her to succeed Ben Bernanke as chair of the nation's central bank.

Yellen said the past six years have been tumultuous for the economy and challenging for many Americans. She said that while the recovery is not complete, "We have made progress, the economy is stronger and the financial system is sounder."

She said considerable credit for the recovery goes to Bernanke. She said it was a privilege to serve with him and learn from him.

Bernanke's term ends Jan. 31. If confirmed by the Senate, Yellen would be the first woman to head the Federal Reserve.

Obama introduced Yellen as a "proven leader." ''And she's tough, not just because she's from Brooklyn," he said. He credited her for being a consensus builder, adding: "She understands the human cost when people can't find a job."

Before selecting Yellen, Obama had considered nominating former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, who had been a close Obama advisor during the first years of his presidency. But Summers withdrew in the face of opposition over his temperament and past support for bank deregulation.

Obama heaped praise on Bernanke for taking "bold action" at the height of the financial crisis in 2008 to "shore up our banks and get credit flowing again."

"Ben Bernanke is the epitome of calm, and against the volatility of global markets he's been a voice of wisdom and a steady hand," Obama said.

The central bank reaches into the lives of millions of Americans. Its two main missions are fostering maximum employment and stabilizing prices. With its power to regulate the supply of money and set interest rates, it influences economic activity, hiring and inflation. It also is the leading regulator of banks and plays a crucial role as the country's lender of last resort when banks can't get their money elsewhere.

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