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Federal Reserve to Get a New Chairman

Jerome Powell named to lead bank that sets interest rates

President appoints new Fed chairman Jerome Powell

Drew Angerer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

At 64, Jerome Powell is in line to become the 16th chairman of the Federal Reserve, a position that was created in 1914.

President Trump on Thursday nominated Jerome H. Powell as chairman of the Federal Reserve, the nation’s central bank, which sets monetary policy via interest rates.

In a ceremony at the Rose Garden of the White House, Trump called for “strong, sound and steady leadership” in announcing Powell’s nomination. “He has proven to be a consensus builder,” Trump said. He praised Powell for his “wisdom and ability.”

The president also took time to laud Janet Yellen, whose four-year term as Fed chief ends in February. She was a contender to keep the job.

In accepting the nomination, Powell said he was inheriting a strong economy and vowed to keep his eye on the ball.

“I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that the Federal Reserve remains vigilant” in maintaining the country’s economic success, Powell said.

Powell, 64, a former undersecretary of the Treasury Department, has been a member of the seven-member Federal Reserve Board of Governors since 2012. The general consensus among experts on economic policy is that he will continue much of the moderate monetary policy that has defined the board under Yellen.

For the past couple of years, the Fed has slowly been increasing historically low interest rates. The unemployment rate has been steadily falling, from a peak of 10 percent a year after the 2008 financial crisis to 4.2 percent recorded for September of this year. In setting interest rates, the Fed generally seeks to balance concerns about inflationunemployment and wages.

While aligned with Yellen on monetary policy, Powell is expected to advocate for loosened bank regulations, a departure from the incumbent chairwoman’s direction, though she recently has expressed some flexibility on the issue.

Powell, who must be confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate, is a Princeton University and Georgetown Law School graduate. He has spent the bulk of his career in the financial world, in the private sector as well as with nonprofits and the government. Immediately before becoming a Fed governor in 2012, he was a visiting scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center think tank, making the argument for an increase in the debt ceiling so that the government would not default.

Fed governors serve 14-year terms. The chairman is chosen from among the governors for a four-year term. Chairmen can be reappointed as long as their 14-year term does not expire during the chairmanship. Powell served the final two years of another member’s term before being appointed to a full 14-year term in 2014; his term ends in 2028.