WASHINGTON — While Lawrence Summers, the director of the National Economic Council, is the most visible potential successor to Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke, observers are increasingly looking west and finding a dark-horse candidate in Janet Yellen.

The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Yellen is a well-respected economist who has served as a governor of the central bank, head of the Council of Economic Advisors under President Clinton, and would be the first woman to chair the Fed. Though it is unclear if President Obama will choose to keep Bernanke, Yellen's name is gaining traction as a possible alternative.

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