Biden picks Jerome Powell to lead the Fed for a second term as the U.S. battles Covid and inflation

Jerome PowellThe Federal Reserve Chairman and national economy’s leader through the sudden Covid-19 crisis, he is now being nominated to a second term.

After weeks of speculation, President Joe Biden announced Monday that the Fed Governor Lael Brainard would be appointed.

Biden acknowledged the pressure he was under to choose a progressive Democrat over the Republican Powell. He said that Powell is the best choice because of the economic conditions.

Brainard was appointed vice-chair of the board. It had been expected that she would be given a post for vice chair in supervision, which supervises the country’s banking system. She will succeed Richard Clarida as vice-chair for monetary policies and oversee wider policy decisions.

Read more: Who is Lael Brainard?

Biden made the following statement in an earlier release: “As I have said previously, we can’t just return where we were prior to the pandemic. We need to rebuild our economy better. I am confident that Dr. Brainard and Chair Powell’s emphasis on maintaining low inflation, stable prices, and providing full employment will strengthen our economy more than ever before.”

Next up, the Senate confirms the nominees.

Biden thanked the Powell Fed’s “decisiveness” in dealing with the pandemic early on.

Fed created an unrivalled array of lending programs, while also reducing interest rates to almost zero. It also established a monthly bond buying program, which would allow the central bank to increase its holdings of Treasurys as well as mortgage-backed securities by over $4 trillion.

A White House statement stated that Powell had provided “steady leadership” during an extremely difficult time, which included the worst economic recession in recent history and threats to the independence of Federal Reserve. “During that time, Lael Brainard – one of our country’s leading macroeconomists – has played a key leadership role at the Federal Reserve, working with Powell to help power our country’s robust economic recovery.”

It was announced in tandem with a boost to the stock marketHowever, the yields on government bonds were all higher.

The Fed’s massive policy support is being rescinded at a rapid pace, and the markets are closely watching.

Officials have already indicated that they plan to reduce the amount of bond purchases. This would result in a reduction of $15 billion each month. The program is expected to be completed by the end-of-summer 2022.

It is another thing to consider interest rate rises.

The majority of Fed officials have stated that they will not consider raising rates until bond buying taper ends. The markets are looking for an earlier rate hike, so the June 2022 initial increase is currently priced in.

Mark Zandi chief economist at Moody’s Analytics stated, “The president chose to maintain the status quo with regard to monetary policy” and added that “The Fed will slowly but steadily remove its foot from the monetary accelerator.”

Janet Yellen was also Powell’s predecessor at the Fed. She praised Powell for how he managed the situation in the face the pandemic crisis. This brought about not only America’s steepest recession but also its shortest.

“Over these past years, Chair Powell led the Federal Reserve in addressing unexpected economic and financial problems effectively. It is a credit to his leadership that I believe our economy will continue to be benefited from his leadership,” Yellen declared.

Recent Controversy

Powell was victorious, but it wasn’t without controversy.

Recently, the Fed was under scrutiny for an ethics scandal that saw multiple Fed officials trading stock stocks while they were implementing market-boosting policies. Powell admitted that he had municipal bonds and the Fed was also buying them. Additionally, he bought and sold broad index funds.

At the same time, the Fed has been hit with inflation running faster than it had anticipated – in fact, at the sharpest pace in 30 years. The official Fed policy has been to let inflation rise slightly above the 2% target since September 2020 if that allows for inclusive and full employment. But prices continue rising at a rate well beyond this level.

Powell believes inflation will drop once pandemic-related factors return to normal. Recent readings raise questions regarding the “average inflation targeting” that signals a historical turn in central bank monetary policy.

Inflation has also been accompanied by a rapid economic recovery, and a decrease in unemployment rates from 14.8% at its peak to 4.6%.

Both Powell and Brainard spoke together on Monday afternoon to emphasize the importance of controlling inflation.

Powell stated that “We are aware of the impact high inflation has on families and those who can’t afford to pay higher prices for essentials such as food, housing, transportation, etc.” Powell said, “So we utilize our tools to both support the economy as well as a strong labor force and prevent rising inflation.”

Brainard said that she was “committed” to placing working Americans in the centre of her work at Federal Reserve. It means lowering inflation at a moment when everyone is focused on what their job is and how much their paychecks go.

Brainard was a major force in the fight for Fed leadership over the next four-years. Brainard has voiced her opinion on many issues of importance to Biden, especially the need for Fed to protect the banking system from disruptive climate change events.

Brainard, a former Treasury undersecretary during Obama’s administration was a firm advocate for a digital currency as a way to make the financial system more accessible to all.

According to the White House, it was important that the Fed continues its progressive work in future years.

Biden stated that Powell and Brainard also shared his deep conviction that urgent action was needed to address economic risks posed climate change and keep our financial system in check.

“Fundamentally, if we want to continue to build on the economic success of this year we need stability and independence at the Federal Reserve – and I have full confidence after their trial by fire over the last 20 months that Chair Powell and Dr. Brainard will provide the strong leadership our country needs,” he added.

Biden has more work ahead of him on the Fed. The board of governors still has one vacant seat, while the Clarida position will have to be filled in January. Biden will also need to name the vice-chair for supervision. Randal Quarles, who resigned in October after a term of three years, had been there until then. On Monday, the White House stated that these announcements would come in early December.

The first reaction from Congress to Monday’s news was positive.

Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democratic senator from Ohio, chairs the crucial Senate Banking Committee, which will hear the nominations. He said that Powell is the best person to work with to protect Wall Street and workers so they can share the wealth they make.

Patrick Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican said that he would support Powell even though he acknowledged having had issues with central bank policies.

This news will likely disappoint progressives like Sen. Elizabeth WarrenD-Mass., who in September stated that the Fed had played a significant role in recent years in relaxing banking regulations makes Powell a “dangerous man”She said she wouldn’t support his renomination. 

According to an insider familiar with the matter, Biden met Warren recently to discuss appointments.

Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island, and Jeff Merkley, Oregon are two other Democratic senators. said they would oppose Powell.

Recovering from Covid

Trump chose to appoint Powell in 2018, somewhat surprising. Trump elected to dismiss Janet Yellen (the Fed’s former Chair), which was unusual as Fed leaders rarely are removed following a single term. Obama had originally appointed Powell for a 14 year term in 2014 as his governor.

Trump appointed Powell to the Fed, but he launched a harsh attack on the Fed chief after the central bank increased interest rates seven times. This was in 2017, and 2018. Former President Trump called the Fed’s policymakers “boneheads”, referring to their efforts to normalize the economy through policy changes.

Brainard is widely believed to be the vice chair for supervision. This key Fed position oversees the country’s banking system.

Congress has given the Fed two mandates. They are to maximize U.S. employment, and maintain stable inflation. Nominated by President Trump, the Fed’s governors vote on whether to adjust interest rates or regulate the largest banks in the country and how to monitor the economic health.

The central bank cut interest rates to combat the rise in unemployment and the recession which began in spring 2020. It began purchasing $120 billion of Treasury bonds each month and mortgage-backed securities. A variety of loan programs were also created to help fixed income markets function after suffering significant stress from the outbreak of the pandemic.

Economists attribute this quick, substantial response to stabilizing financial markets. They also credit it with later decreasing long-term rates. Companies can borrow more money to expand their factories and for people to own homes. 

Mike Feroli from JPMorgan’s chief U.S. economist stated by email, “Under Powell, the Fed has put more emphasis on having an economy operate at maximum unemployment.”

This is an objective that progressive economists have advocated for a long time and which seems to be consistent with Biden’s agenda.  

Janet Yellen (Treasury Secretary), was one of Biden’s most prominent economic advisers. She also served as a counsel on the Fed nominees. is happy with the Fed chief’s work. Yellen is also the nation’s first female Treasury Secretary and was first to sit in the Fed chair. 

Yellen explained that she had spoken to Powell and recommended that he pick someone experienced and reliable. I think Chair Powell did a great job. 

Powell is also popular at Capitol Hill. Both sides of Congress have praised Powell’s leadership since he assumed the reins for Yellen’s in February 2018. 

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