WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama has narrowed his choices to succeed Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to "some extraordinary candidates" and will announce his pick "over the next several months," he said in an interview with the New York Times.
In the interview, released on Saturday, Obama said he wanted a Fed leader who would focus on helping the economy grow and not just work abstractly to keep inflation in check and markets stable, the Times reported.
"The idea is to promote those things in service of the lives of ordinary Americans getting better," Obama said. "I want a Fed chairman that can step back and look at that objectively and say, 'Let's make sure that we're growing the economy,'" he said.
Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen are thought to be the two top candidates for the job.
Senior White House officials said earlier this week Obama had made no decision about who to nominate to replace Bernanke when his term expires on January 31. Bernanke, who has led the Fed since 2006, is widely believed not to want to stay on for a third four-year term.
The central bank plays a key role in guiding the world's largest economy and has taken on new financial oversight responsibilities following the worst U.S. financial crisis since the Great Depression.
Summers is a former economic adviser to Obama. Yellen is a former Clinton administration official; she would be the first woman to lead the Fed.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Peter Cooney and Mohammad Zargham)