Trump likely to pick Powell as next Fed chief

President predicts people will be "extremely impressed" with the nominee, who will require senate confirmation

FILE PHOTO: Jerome H. Powell, a governor on the board of the Federal Reserve System, prepares to testify to the Senate Banking Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 22, 2017.   REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo
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The US President Donald Trump is expected on Thursday to nominate Jerome Powell as the next head of the Federal Reserve, putting his own stamp on the leadership of the US central bank while signalling continuity on monetary policy.

Trump's decision, scheduled for Thursday afternoon, concludes a months-long process in which he considered five finalists, including the current Fed chairman Janet Yellen, before settling on Mr Powell who has served as a Fed governor since 2012.

Mr Powell's name has been circulated as the top contender for more than a week.

A source with knowledge of the process said no surprises were expected on Thursday, despite Mr Trump's reputation for weighing decisions up to the last minute and his praise on Wednesday of Ms Yellen, who was nominated by president Barack Obama. Her term as Fed chairman expires in February 2018 although she is entitled to remain a Fed board governor until 2024.

"I think Janet Yellen is excellent," Mr Trump told reporters during a meeting with his cabinet after declaring his intention to announce his choice the next day.

Asked if she was his pick, Mr Trump said: "I didn't say that."

He predicted people would be "extremely impressed" with the nominee, who will require senate confirmation.

Mr Powell, 64, has supported Ms Yellen's general direction in setting monetary policy, and in recent years has shared her concerns that low inflation justified continuing with a cautious approach to raising interest rates.

The Commerzbank economist Bernd Weidensteiner said a Powell pick would mean Mr Trump had chosen the "least controversial" person for the job. "Under his chairmanship markets would expect business as usual – which they obviously like," he said.

The president has mulled his choices for the Fed chairman, a decision that is normally cloaked in secrecy, in an unusually public way, asking policymakers and even a television news anchor to weigh in on whom they would pick.


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Mr Trump also considered the Stanford University economist John Taylor, the former Fed governor Kevin Warsh and the White House economic adviser Gary Cohn.

Mr Taylor and Mr Warsh were both viewed as people who might raise interest rates at a faster pace than Ms Yellen and Mr Powell. Mr Cohn appeared to fall out of favour after criticising Mr Trump's reaction to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier this year.

Financial markets look set to greet Mr Powell's appointment with a shrug. Investors are pricing in an interest rate rise in December and the Fed's current projections are for three more rate rises next year.

Mr Powell is expected to pursue a policy of cautious deregulation of the financial sector, potentially freeing smaller banks from some of the rules imposed in the wake of the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

Mr Powell played a key role in drafting new bank regulations after the crisis and will likely offer more continuity for Wall Street than other candidates, analysts said.