Less than a month after Ben Bernanke assumed the reins of the Federal Reserve from long-time chair Alan Greenspan, Fed vice chair Roger Ferguson, the second-highest ranking official at the central bank, announced that he would step down.

In a letter to President Bush, Ferguson, 54, said it was "now time for me to pursue other professional opportunities."

His resignation is effective at the end of April. He had been among the potential successors to Greenspan, but ultimately was passed over in favor of Bernanke.

A Clinton appointee, Ferguson was temporarily in charge of the Fed on Sept. 11, 2001, when Greenspan was out of the country and he promptly undertook a series of strategic steps to ensure the continued flow of money. He also had overseen the Y2K project at the Fed.Prior to joining the Fed, Ferguson was a partner at consulting concern McKinsey & Co.

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