Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell was confirmed with broad bipartisan support in the Senate to take the helm of the U.S. central bank when Chair Janet Yellen’s term ends Feb. 3.
Lawmakers voted 85-12 in favor of the former private-equity executive, widely seen as a choice for policy continuity who President Donald Trump picked in November to replace Yellen, the first woman to lead the Fed.
His confirmation as Fed chair comes amid broader changes in the leadership of the U.S. central bank. The White House is looking at potential candidates to fill the vice chair slot, vacant since Stanley Fischer retired in October, and a search is under way to find a successor New York Fed President William Dudley, who plans to step down in mid-2018.
In selecting the former Carlyle Group LP managing director, Trump broke a three-decade bipartisan practice of presidents renominating the Fed chair they inherited from the president of the other party. Trump did, however, install a solid supporter of Yellen’s gradual approach to raising interest rates and someone who sympathizes with White House calls to ease bank rules imposed after the U.S. financial crisis.
Powell, 64, has never voted against the chair since joining the Fed in 2012 and sided with the dovish wing at the central bank during his Nov. 28 Senate confirmation hearing, suggesting there may still be more room for the labor market to run.
“There may be more slack, more people that can come back to work. I think we are looking at an economy that is going to go under 4 percent unemployment,” he said.
U.S. unemployment in December was 4.1 percent, the lowest level since 2000.
Yellen’s term as chair ends on Feb. 3 and she will lead the next meeting of the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee on Jan. 30-31. The Fed has penciled in three more rate increases in 2018, according to projections released Dec. 13, while it sees tax cuts that Trump signed last month providing a short-term stimulus to the economy that will lift growth to 2.5 percent this year, compared with 2.1 percent forecast in September.