While everyone wonders who will chair the Federal Reserve after Ben Bernanke, it's worth noting that it doesn't make a lot of difference. The tapering down of the Fed's current bond buying (QE3) may depend on the new chairman, and regulatory activity may depend on him or her, but these won't make as large a difference as most pundits seem to think.
Let's talk Fed tapering. The Federal Reserve is buying $85 billion of long-term securities each month, in an operation called QE3 (Quantitative Easing, Round 3). At some time, they will taper down to something less, and the timing seems to be important. Except, I don't see much impact from the buying they have been doing. Yes, interest rates were low, but they were low in the early stages of QE3, hundreds of billions of dollars ago. There's a lot more that goes into long-term rates than Federal Reserve action, because capital markets are global. The Fed is small potatoes compared to global supply and demand for credit. (That's not so true for short-term lending, but it is for long-term bonds.)
Further, Fed action has added to bank reserves, which normally would stimulate the money supply, and thus spending by businesses and consumers. This time, like the earlier rounds of quantitative easing, the reserves have stayed on bank balance sheets. The money supply has not risen much. In short, QE3 has been a bust. If we taper it down, so what?
The other issue that the new Fed chair will deal with is regulation, and my fellow pundits have tried to divine regulatory intentions of the various candidates. However, the Fed is only one of several banking regulators. Their regulatory work must conform to laws passed by Congress. There's certainly room for judgment, but not room for a wholesale change in approach.
Finally, keep in mind that the Fed chairman is just that: a chairman, not a czar. For regulatory decisions, the seven-member Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve vote on final decisions. For monetary policy, the vote is by the 12-person Federal Open Market Committee, consisting of the seven governors and five of the 12 regional Federal Reserve Bank presidents (who take turns voting, except for the head of the New York Fed who always votes). The chairman is clearly the leader, but he or she cannot move on a whim. Good chairmen have persuaded their fellow board members. Some chairmen, however, have had more difficulty at consensus building. The chairman matters, but it's not earthshaking.