President Donald Trump plans to nominate Judy Shelton and Christopher Waller to join the Federal Reserve, the White House said.
The president, who has publicly criticized Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and his colleagues for not cutting interest rates as aggressively as he would like, tapped the pair in July for the two remaining vacancies on the central bank’s seven-seat board in Washington. But the formal announcement of his intention to nominate them didn’t come until Thursday and will now move to the Senate for consideration.
If confirmed by the Senate, they will join an institution that’s been under constant attack from the president who has sought to make Powell a potential scapegoat if the economy falters as he seeks re-election this year. Trump returned to this theme at the White House on Wednesday, appearing to lament that he had passed over Kevin Warsh in picking Powell as Fed chief.
Fed officials cut interest rates three times in 2019 but signaled they expect to keep rates on hold through 2020, based on their forecast of moderate economic growth with unemployment staying near a 50-year low.
The two economists have widely different backgrounds, but their policy comments suggest they’d be inclined to be open to Trump’s calls for easier monetary policy.
Shelton, who has been an informal adviser to Trump, has publicly said the central bank should reduce rates. She’s spent decades outside mainstream economics and recently appears to have completed a metamorphosis from proponent of returning to the gold standard — a concept broadly espoused by those who feel monetary policy is too lax — to an advocate of the need for more stimulus.
“There is a little more at stake here than just filling up the governor spots,” said Sarah Binder, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-author of a book on the Fed’s relations with Congress. “She could get confirmed, but it does seem that the deck is stacked against the easy road here.”