There have been many big headlines coming out of Washington these days, but one that should not be overlooked is the nomination of the new Federal Reserve Chairman. The Federal Reserve is responsible for controlling the nation’s monetary policy and credit conditions, supervising and regulating banks and maintaining stability of the financial system, so it is easy to see why the Chairman of the Board considered by many to be the second most powerful job in government.
President Trump has nominated Republican Jerome H. Powell, bypassing Janet Yellen for her second term. At age 64, Powell has experience in private equity, investment banking, law and government; however, he will be the first Fed Chair in more than four decades who does not have an economics degree. He was first nominated to the Fed’s Board of Governors in 2011 by President Obama and was re-nominated two years later for a second term.
The immediate concern of the Fed has been maintaining economic recovery without spiking inflation. The Fed has been doing this since 2015 by slowly raising interest rates and also reducing its large holdings of bonds. Powell has consistently voted with Yellen to slowly raise interest rates, so it is widely thought that he will continue this modest rise as long as the economy stays healthy.
However, in the event that there is an economic slowdown, there is little history for us to pull from to get a good idea of how he would wish to react. We are now 8 years into a bull market and even though we do not know when the run will end, history tells us it eventually will. When it does, we will be relying on Jerome Powell and the rest of the Fed to maintain stability and guide us through.