Senate Prepares to Confirm Jerome Powell to Second Term Leading Federal Reserve

Jerome Powell is set to be confirmed by the senate as a second term for Chairman of the Federal Reserve during their upcoming vote. The confirmation comes at an important time where global rates will remain low and stable, with President Trump tweeting his support. With this news out in the open, what are analysts expecting from Jerome?

The “jerome powell confirmation vote” is a story that has been circulating the internet for a while. The senate is preparing to confirm Jerome Powell to his second term as the Federal Reserve chairman.

Mr. Powell’s candidacy, which is up for a Senate vote on Thursday afternoon, had been expected to receive bipartisan support for months, despite concerns about inflation and the Fed’s hasty interest-rate hikes to relieve pricing pressures.

Last October, President Biden announced that he would re-appoint Mr. Powell, selecting for continuity as the central bank’s problems in managing inflation became clearer. President Donald Trump appointed Mr. Powell, 69, to run the central bank in 2018, six years after President Barack Obama appointed him to its board of governors.

Senators on the Senate Banking Committee voted 23-1 to confirm him on March 16, with only Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) voting against him.


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Mr. Powell’s popularity on Capitol Hill hasn’t been harmed by the current bout of high inflation. However, analysts on both sides of the aisle have criticized his depiction of price rises last year as transitory, as well as his decision to gradually reduce stimulus after the Biden administration signed a $1.9 trillion spending plan.

In an interview last week, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said, “As part of restoring its credibility, the Fed needs to engage in some kind of after-action report that tries to analyze why they…were as wrong as they were in assessing the inflation risk and judging inflation to be transitory during 2021.”

Chairman Jerome Powell of the Federal Reserve said the central bank authorized a half-percentage-point interest-rate hike in an attempt to lower inflation, which is at a four-decade high. Getty Images/Winning McNamee

Mr. Powell said at a March press conference that, in retrospect, the Fed should have withdrawn stimulus sooner if it had anticipated the pandemic economy’s supply disruptions would endure as long as they did, especially after clashing with very robust demand last year.

“There was a significant budgetary response.” The monetary policy response was quite powerful. The demand was really high. “No one should refute that,” Powell said at an economics conference on March 21. “However, without supply-side limits, you couldn’t put that much demand into any of our models and have this level of inflation.”

Mr. Powell has been steering the Fed away from stimulus since the end of last year. The Federal Reserve has hiked interest rates twice this year, most notably by a half percentage point last week, the first time since 2000, to a range of 0.75 percent to 1%. Mr. Powell said that further half-point rises are probable until the central bank is satisfied that inflation is expected to moderate.

As a result of this approach, governments are more likely to raise interest rates to levels that may precipitate a recession. That’s not the same as the more optimistic scenario outlined in policymakers’ March policy estimates, in which inflation decreases but unemployment remains low and the economy continues to thrive.

Because conflicts are generally inflationary, and the West’s censure of Russia threatens to exacerbate commodity price hikes and global supply-chain disruptions, the Fed’s capacity to provide a gentle landing has been complex.

According to the Fed’s favored measurement, the Commerce Department’s personal-consumption expenditures price index, consumer prices jumped 6.6 percent in March from the previous year. The Labor Department’s separate consumer-price index showed that inflation in the United States fell to 8.3 percent in April, but remained close to the highest rate in four decades.

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Lael Brainard has been confirmed as the Fed’s vice chairwoman by the Senate.

Rod Lamkey/Zuma Press photo

In April, the jobless rate was 3.6 percent, close to a half-century low.

“Every time we have inflation over 4% and unemployment below 4%, we get a recession in the following two years,” Mr. Summers remarked. “There’s a good chance we won’t have a gentle landing.”

One risk is that the price increase is strong enough or lasts long enough to alter consumers’ and companies’ inflation expectations, making them self-fulfilling. Workers may want greater compensation today if they expect a high inflation rate in a year’s time.

“We can’t let a wage-price spiral unfold, and inflation expectations can’t become unanchored.” Mr. Powell said last week, “It’s simply something we can’t accept.”

Last October, several progressive Democrats advocated hard for Mr. Biden to replace Mr. Powell with someone who would continue Mr. Powell’s easy-money post-pandemic stimulus measures while toughening financial regulation, especially by utilizing bank supervisory powers to affect climate change policy.

Mr. Powell, according to White House advisors, would be easier to confirm in the Senate. They also commended him for keeping a level head throughout the outbreak and during an earlier period when he rejected assaults from President Trump, who sought greater Fed stimulus prior to the pandemic.

The selection of Mr. Powell coincided with the ascension of Fed governor Lael Brainard to vice chairwoman. On April 26, the Senate confirmed her for the role.

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Lisa Cook will join the board of the central bank.

PHOTO: REUTERS/KEN CEDENO

With the approval earlier this week of two more economists to fill vacancies on the Fed’s Washington-based board of governors—Lisa Cook of Michigan State University and Philip Jefferson of Davidson College—Mr. Biden has been able to further stamp his mark on the central bank.

Mr. Biden will have selected four of the six Fed governors to their present posts with Mr. Powell’s confirmation. Some experts believe the new candidates will prefer more gradual rate hikes, but they are unlikely to prevent the Fed from tightening quicker as long as inflation continues far over the Fed’s 2 percent objective.

At their Senate confirmation hearing, Ms. Cook and Mr. Jefferson said that combating rising inflation should be a central bank priority, and Fed governors are usually consensus-oriented.

Michael Barr, a law professor at the University of Michigan, was also nominated by the president to serve as the Fed’s vice chairman of bank supervision and fill a final seat on the seven-member board. The date of his confirmation hearing has been scheduled on May 19.

Mr. Powell’s first four-year tenure as chairman ended in early February, and he has been serving as “chair pro tempore” in the interim since then. The confirmation process for Mr. Biden’s Fed nominees came to a halt in February when Democrats declined to advance Mr. Biden’s candidates individually and Republicans refused to vote on his first choice for vice chairwoman of bank supervision, Sarah Bloom Raskin, who withdrew from consideration in March.

Throughout his first term, Mr. Powell’s political backing proved to be invaluable. While Mr. Trump threatened to dismiss him for not offering looser monetary policy, he maneuvered a policy U-turn from hiking rates to reducing them in 2019. Mr. Powell made it plain in private that he would not be driven out of his post willingly until he died.

Later, working with Congress and the US Treasury, he engineered one of the most daring economic policy responses since WWII. To backstop credit markets, the Fed dropped interest rates to zero and then bought trillions of dollars in government debt and pledged to acquire trillions more in loans and other assets.

Sen. John Kennedy (R., La.) praised Mr. Powell’s quick response when the pandemic struck in March 2020 at a congressional hearing in early March. “The private sector was shut down by the government…. Markets are on edge. He responded, “Everyone is looking to you to settle things down.” “You did.”

Nick Timiraos can be reached at [email protected]

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