Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Warren opposes ‘dangerous man’ Powell for second term as Fed chairman

by Craig Torres and Steven T. Dennis | bloomberg

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has pressed Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on his record on financial regulation, saying she will not support him for a second term as head of the US central bank.

“Your record gives me serious concern,” the Massachusetts Democrat said Tuesday during a Senate Banking Committee hearing. “You have worked to make our banking system less secure, and that makes you a dangerous person to lead the Fed and so I will oppose your nomination.”

Powell’s term ends in February and Bloomberg News has reported that White House aides are considering recommending President Joe Biden to be hired.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who testified with Powell at the hearing, told senior White House advisers in August that she supports reappointment of Powell as president. His support is a key voice in the White House deliberation process, Bloomberg has reported, given his prior experience as Fed chairman and central bank.

bipartisan support

Even if there was not a vote on Warren Powell, he could probably count on bipartisan support for confirmation. Several senators from both parties have said they would support him, including Republican Rob Portman of Ohio, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Jerry Moran of Kansas and Steve Dines of Montana.

Powell’s vote, which joins Supervision Vice President Randall Quarles’ policies of power regulation in the name of efficiency, has been a turning point for both Warren and Sherrod Brown, a Democratic senator from Ohio and chairman of the Senate Banking Panel.

Warren is the only senator to come out against Powell Pique. Brown hasn’t backed him yet, but made a push for a more diverse Federal Reserve during Tuesday’s hearing.

Fed Governor Lyle Brainard is being seen as another major contender for the chair seat. He and Powell in particular differ in their views on financial regulation.

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Warren’s protests have complicated the Biden administration’s calculations. He must either increase his pressure for Powell or choose another candidate, who may face more resistance from Republicans in the Senate confirmation process, with Democrats holding 50 out of 100 seats.

A White House official did not offer immediate comment.

Powell, a Republican, was nominated to the Fed board by former President Barack Obama and promoted to chairman by former President Donald Trump.

Powell Flexibility

Warren’s declaration against her signals that she does not believe a new vice president of supervision can set the agenda with a chair that may not agree with her. Powell has shown resilience in the past, resisting not least in board votes against Daniel Tarullo’s initiative, which led to an aggressive overhaul of supervision in the wake of the 2008–2009 financial crisis.

Powell interprets the Dodd-Frank Act – a 2010 reform to strengthen banks after the crisis – in rather strict statutory terms. The law states that the vice president of supervision will “develop policy recommendations” for the Fed board and “oversee the supervision and regulation of such firms.”

The chair seat is one of four positions the Biden administration could fill. Vice-chair Richard Clarida’s term as governor ends in January, and Randall Quarles’ term as vice president of oversight ends next month. Also one seat is vacant.

The appointments could have a dramatic impact on policy expectations next year. What’s more, Robert Kaplan and Eric Rosengren, the presidents of the Dallas and Boston Fed Banks, have resigned in the wake of scrutiny over their stock trading in 2020, possibly throwing two new forecasts into the equation when Fed officials meet in December.

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