Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The battle for the hearts and minds of the Fed

Now that the Trump team has moved into the West Wing of the White House, investors still one big Trump policy question mark that overhang the market. Who will Trump appoint to the two vacant governor seats at the Federal Reserve?

CNBC reported that David Nason is a leading contender for a board seat, but he is rumored to be considered for a regulatory role. Such an appointment gives us no hints about the likely future direction of monetary policy and who might replace Janet Yellen, should Trump choose not to re-appoint her as Fed chair in 2018.

Bloomberg reported that the latest rumor mill has the leading candidates for Fed chair, namely Glenn Hubbard, John Taylor, and Kevin Warsh, advocating a tighter monetary policy than the current Fed:
Potential candidates to head the Federal Reserve in 2018 suggested that monetary policy would be tighter if they were in charge.

Speaking at the annual American Economic Association meeting that ended Sunday, Glenn Hubbard of Columbia University, along with Stanford University’s John Taylor and Kevin Warsh, criticized the central bank for trying to do too much to help an economy struggling with problems that monetary policy can’t solve.

“The Federal Reserve is a little behind the curve” in raising interest rates, Taylor, a Treasury undersecretary for international affairs under the last Republican president, said Saturday during a panel discussion in Chicago.

Hubbard, who headed the Council of Economic Advisers under Bush, said he agreed with what he perceives as Trump’s stance that the U.S. has depended too much on the Fed to support the economy in recent years.
Is that what Trump really wants? There is a battle going on for the hearts and minds of the Federal Reserve. The outcome will have profound implications for the direction of monetary policy, the likely trajectory of economic growth for President Trump's next four years, and the stock market.

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