Feb 12, 2020 - Economy

Fed picks to raise political independence at confirmation hearings

Puppetmaster controlling the Fed

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump's picks to fill the Federal Reserve board, Christopher Waller and Judy Shelton, will publicly air views on the Fed's political independence in a Senate hearing on Thursday, according to released drafts of testimony.

Why it matters: Trump's nominees, particularly Shelton, an economist who has been critical of the Fed and previously served as an adviser to Trump's campaign, will face questions about their commitment to the Fed's nonpolitical economic decisions.

  • Trump has repeatedly tried to goad the Fed into lowering interest rates — flouting the tradition of the executive branch staying out of conversations about monetary policy.

What they're saying: Shelton will acknowledge the central bank's independence, while Waller, a long-time official at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, will give a bolder defense of a nonpolitical Fed.

  • Waller will reference his research "on the importance of central bank independence for the conduct of monetary policy."
  • Shelton will testify that along with the political independence "granted to the Federal Reserve comes an obligation to be wholly accountable both to Congress and to the public."

The backdrop: Shelton has "questioned the basis of the Fed's independence from the White House," as the New York Times puts it, and has advocated for a return to the gold standard.

  • Waller, a close adviser to dovish Fed member James Bullard, is considered a more traditional pick for the Fed.

What's next: Waller and Shelton will face questions from the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday morning.

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