Fed watchers eye Biden plans for top slot, board openings

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Kia Kokalitcheva
·2 min read
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Federal Reserve watchers eager to know what President Biden has planned for the agency's top job will likely have to wait until at least this summer since Jerome Powell's current term as chair does not expire until early 2022. But how Biden fills other open positions on the board will offer clues about the direction he will take.

State of play: While some say reappointing Powell is a logical choice, other reported possible picks include board member Lael Brainard or Raphael Bostic, who leads the Atlanta Fed bank.

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The big picture: The administration is considering Michigan State University economist Lisa Cook to fill an open seat that’s been vacant since Janet Yellen’s resignation in 2018 from the seven-person board, as Axios’ Hans Nichols reported in February.

  • Cook is considered "dovish," meaning she’s more concerned with improving employment levels and keeping interest rates low than with inflation.

What's next: Biden will also have the opportunity to fill board member Randal Quarles’ position as vice chair of supervision when his tenure ends in October, and the president's choice could offer another clue about his bigger vision for the Fed.

  • The vice chair of supervision position, created in 2010 as part of the Dodd-Frank Act, is in charge of overseeing banking but remained unfilled until Quarles' appointment in 2017.

  • And when Richard Clarida’s terms as both a board member and vice chair expire in January 2022, more slots will be up for grabs.

  • Of course, both could be reappointed to their vice chair positions.

The bottom line: Even without making a change at the top, Biden has a chance to steer the Fed's future.

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