U.S. Senator Cruz has 'open mind' on Yellen Fed pick

WASHINGTON Thu Oct 24, 2013 1:24pm EDT

1 of 2. U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) answers questions during the Reuters Washington Summit in Washington, October 24, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Bourg

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, a leading conservative voice, said on Thursday he has an "open mind" on President Barack Obama's selection of Janet Yellen to lead the Federal Reserve.

Yellen, the Fed's current vice chair, has been a strong proponent of the use of ultra-easy monetary policy to boost U.S. economic growth.

Obama's pick of Yellen to replace current Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke when his term expires in January will require Senate confirmation.

Though many analysts believe the Democratic-led Senate will ultimately approve Yellen for the top job at the U.S. central bank, the hearing and debate on the Senate floor could be contentious.

"I have not had an opportunity to visit with Ms. Yellen, so I will keep an open mind and listen to what she has to say and to the arguments for her confirmation," Cruz told the Reuters Washington Summit.

But Cruz, who is a supporter of legislation calling for an audit of the Fed's monetary policy decisions, said he did have concerns about the Fed's monetary policy.

Many Republicans, including Cruz, are critical of the Fed's stimulus, involving massive purchases of bonds in an effort to reduce long-term interest rates. The bond-buying has roughly quadrupled the Fed's balance sheet to about $3.8 trillion.

"I do have real concerns about the Fed's seemingly unlimited quantitative easing and the potential (for it) to lead to long-term inflation that undermines the savings and investments of every American," Cruz said.

Bernanke and other Fed officials oppose the idea of an audit, saying it would undermine the Fed's independence.

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(Editing by Krista Hughes)