Powell nominated for second term as Fed chair

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell was nominated for a second four-year term by President Joe Biden on Monday.

The nomination positions the ex-investment banker to finish the most consequential revamp of monetary policy since the 1970s.

Lael Brainard, the Federal Reserve board member who was the other top candidate for the job, will be vice chair, the White House said.

Powell, 68, will need to be confirmed by the Senate, currently controlled by Biden’s Democratic party but closely divided.

The decision to stick with Powell, a Republican and former private equity lawyer elevated to the Fed’s top job by Trump, rejuvenates what in recent decades had been a bipartisan approach to filling the position, and several Republican senators have already endorsed the reappointment despite Powell’s rocky relationship with Trump.

U.S. equity index futures edged higher in pre-market trading after the news. Treasury bond yields also rose and the dollar strengthened.

Powell’s reappointment had been encouraged by a cross-section of investors and economists with both conservative and liberal leanings.

But controversy over stock trading during the pandemic by two former regional Federal Reserve bank presidents roiled the renomination process with calls for broader reform. Powell pivoted fast, quickly rolling out new ethics rules for top Fed officials far stricter even than the ones his critics in Congress apply to themselves.

Ultimately, continuity and Powell’s command of monetary policy through the coronavirus crisis proved decisive.

His swift and aggressive actions at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020 were widely hailed as staving off a potential Depression. Later, some lauded his focus on jobs in the new policy framework he launched just over a year ago, and others argued it would be too risky to oust the Fed chair during a sensitive transition from the emergency measures taken during the health crisis.

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