Obama: Fed chair will prevent asset bubbles, focus on jobs

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks alongside Americans (unseen) the White House says will benefit from the opening of health insurance marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, October 1, 2013. REUTERS/Larry Downing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Wednesday the person he selects to head the Federal Reserve when Chairman Ben Bernanke's term ends in January will prevent asset bubbles from forming and try to bring down the unemployment rate.

"They're going to be making sure that they keep an eye on inflation, that they're not encouraging some of the bubbles that we've seen in our economy that have resulted in busts," Obama said in an interview on CNBC.

"But they're also going to stay focused on the fact that our unemployment rate is still too high."

The president said the budget standoff that has led to a government shutdown has not hindered the selection process.

"Ben Bernanke's still there and he's doing a fine job," Obama said. "This is one of the most important appointments that I make, other than the Supreme Court. So, no, the shutdown's not slowing down the vetting."

He said the person he would appoint would "reflect the Fed's dual mandate." The Fed is charged by Congress with both keeping inflation steady and low and ensuring maximum employment.

Current Vice Chair Janet Yellen, a veteran of the Fed system, is the front-runner to replace Bernanke in January, a White House official has said.

(Reporting By Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Sandra Maler and Stacey Joyce)