Richard Clarida, a Columbia university professor and former official in the George W. Bush administration, is the leading candidate to replace Ben Bernanke as a Federal Reserve governor.

Mr Clarida spent a year at the US Treasury during President Bush's first term, serving as an assistant secretary and as chief economist.

He is seen as an orthodox economist with experience in international policymaking.

“It is far from a done deal, Ben [Bernanke] has not even resigned from the Federal Reserve yet,” a person familiar with the process said. “But Rich would be a good fit and he would love the job.”

The White House has nominated Mr Bernanke to take over as chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers. While he awaits Senate confirmation, Mr Bernanke has divested himself of his monetary policy responsibilities at the Fed.

Jeffrey Frankel, professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, said Mr Clarida was “a very good, very mainstream economist”.

Mr Frankel is director of the international finance and macroeconomics programme at the National Bureau of Economics, the leading academic research group, where Mr Clarida is head of a project on current account imbalances and the Group of Seven leading industrialised economies.

Mr Clarida is not the only economist the White House is considering, but the list of potential candidates is small, the person familiar with the White House's thinking said. He did not immediately return calls asking for comment. The Fed and the White House declined to comment.

Mr Clarida, who has a PhD from Harvard University, has published widely in academic journals on monetary policy, interest rates, exchange rates and international capital flows.

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