WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Trump on Thursday tapped Jerome Powell to become head of the U.S. Federal Reserve, promoting a soft-spoken centrist to replace Janet Yellen when her term expires in February 2018.
Powell, appointed to the Fed board in 2012 by then-President Barack Obama, emerged as Trump’s choice from a five-person slate of possible nominees that included Yellen as well as others who would have represented a sharp change in monetary policy.
In an announcement at the White House, Trump called Powell a strong, committed and smart leader.
“He has proved to be a consensus builder for the sound monetary and financial policy that he believes in … based on his record I am confident that Jay has the wisdom and leadership to guide our economy,” Trump said as the Fed nominee looked on.
The decision, which ended an unusually public, months-long search, offers a bit of both worlds, allowing Trump to select a new Fed chief while getting continuity with a Yellen-run central bank that has kept the economy and markets on an even keel.
Powell, a 64-year-old lawyer and former investment banker, has backed Yellen’s general direction on monetary policy and, in recent years, shared her concerns that weak inflation justified a continued cautious approach to raising interest rates.
Top White House economic adviser Gary Cohn also was a contender for the position.