Biden says Fed chair announcement coming in 'about 4 days'

Powell or Brainard? Biden expected to announce Fed pick soon

President Biden on Tuesday said he plans to announce a nominee for Federal Reserve chair in "about four days."


Biden is weighing whether to renominate current Chair Jerome Powell, whose term officially expires in February. The Fed chair is one of the most powerful players in Washington, with the ability to dictate the pace of economic growth, and is typically nominated for a second term, often to reinforce the central bank's independence from politics. 

In this Sept. 30, 2021, file photo, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testifies during a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Sarah Silbiger/Pool Photo via AP, File / Associated Press)

Powell, a former private equity executive and a former Republican Treasury official who was nominated in 2017 by then-President Trump, has garnered bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for steering the U.S. through the coronavirus pandemic. 

But Lael Brainard, the sole Democrat who sits on the Fed's Board of Governors, has also emerged as a potential contender for the job. 

Biden reportedly interviewed both Brainard and Powell at the White House a little over a week ago. The two candidates are closely aligned on monetary policy, and both have argued that a recent inflation surge is likely to abate as pandemic-induced disruptions in the supply chain ease.  

"I've given a lot of thought to it," Biden said last week while speaking Glasgow, Scotland, during the United Nations summit on climate change, known as COP26. "I've been meeting [with] macroeconomic advisers on what the best choices are. We've got a lot of good choices. But I'm not going to speculate now."

Although Wall Street widely expects Biden to tap Powell for a second term, the matter has been complicated by progressive lawmakers who want the head of the U.S. central bank to more strictly regulate banks and other financial institutions and to prioritize climate change. Brainard has been a vocal advocate for stricter regulation of banks, and has dissented on 23 Fed board votes since Powell became chairman in 2018.  

Lael Brainard, governor of the U.S. Federal Reserve, during the National Association of Business Economics (NABE) annual meeting in Arlington, Virginia, on Monday, Sept. 27, 2021.  (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

At the same time, Powell has reportedly secured a key endorsement from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, the former Fed chief, boosting his odds of a second term, given her nearly two decades of experience at the Fed. 

Yellen also has worked directly with Powell, who served as a governor at the Fed under her tenure. (In 2018, Powell replaced Yellen at the helm of the Fed, making her the first chair to not be reappointed after serving a first full term.) 


"I talked to him about candidates and advised him to pick somebody who is experienced and credible," Yellen told CNBC last week. "I think that Chair Powell has certainly done a good job."

The White House's decision comes as Fed policymakers grapple with the highest inflation in decades that is lasting longer than the central bank anticipated.