Ben Bernanke was sworn in as the 14th chairman of the Federal Reserve, with the first item on his agenda likely to be a decision on the direction of interest rates.

The Fed increased rates for a 14th consecutive time on Tuesday and is expected to do so one last time at Bernanke's first meeting as chief, on March 28. Economists expect rates to remain unchanged for several months beyond that.

The oath of office was administered to Bernanke in the Fed board room by vice chairman Roger Ferguson.

Former Chairman Alan Greenspan, who served for more than 18 years, will turn to setting up a private consulting firm in Washington, Greenspan Associates.

Bernanke will present the Fed's twice-a-year monetary report to Congress on Feb. 15 and is expected to be, like Greenspan, a strong anti-inflationist.

Bernanke, 51, had been serving as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, and was a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve for three years. Prior to that position, he was chair of the Economics Department at Princeton University from 1996 to 2002.

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