Trump says his Fed chair pick will be one of five already named

Tuesday , October 17, 2017 - 1:25 PM

Jennifer Jacobs

(c) 2017, Bloomberg.

President Donald Trump said he plans to choose from among five finalists to be the next Federal Reserve Chairman and will make his decision soon.

Trump is working with a shortlist of five names to lead the central bank: former Fed Governor Kevin Warsh, Stanford University economist John Taylor, current Fed Governor Jerome Powell, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and the current chair, Janet Yellen, according to people familiar with the process.

“Within those five you’ll probably get the answer,” he told reporters at a White House press conference Tuesday, adding he will make the decision in a “short period.”

“Honestly I like them all, I do,” Trump said. “I have a great respect for all of them.”

Trump’s selection will be unveiled before he leaves Nov. 3 for an 11-day trip to Asia and Hawaii, a person familiar with the process said earlier Tuesday.

Trump has already interviewed some of the candidates and plans to interview Yellen on Thursday. Her current term ends in February. The post is subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate, a process that can take months to complete.

Taylor, 70, made a favorable impression on the president after an hour-long interview at the White House last week, several people familiar with the process said.

Warsh has meanwhile seen his star fade within the White House, three of the people said. They wouldn’t say why, but Warsh’s academic credentials aren’t as strong as the other finalists and at 47 he is considerably younger than the others.

Trump gushed about Taylor after his interview, one of the people said. The president has a history of hiring people with whom he has a strong personal rapport. Taylor is a monetary policy expert whose equation on policy-rate settings is a standard reference tool used by central banks and economists around the world.

Speculation that Taylor is a leading contender for the post prompted investors to lift bets on a rate increase in December and sent the dollar up versus Group of 10 currencies.

U.S. central bankers are presiding over the third-longest economic expansion in U.S. history, fueled in part by Yellen’s caution in reversing the Fed’s crisis-era interventions. Under her tenure, the Federal Open Market Committee has raised rates just four times since December 2015. At issue for the next Fed chair, if Yellen isn’t renominated, is ensuring the long expansion doesn’t give way to a recession.

In his first term, Trump may nominate as many as five governors to the Fed’s seven-person board -- decisions whose consequences may outlast his presidency. Governors are appointed to terms as long as 14 years, while the next Fed chair will serve until at least 2022 and could be reappointed.

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