Markets Want to See Fed Independence in Policy Decisions: Gordon
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said President Donald Trump’s White House has had “exploratory discussions’’ with him about taking a job as a Federal Reserve governor, adding he was not planning to leave his current job.
“I’m happy in my current position,’’ Bullard told reporters in St. Louis before a lecture at his bank. “I like my board of directors here’’ and am already on the policy-making Federal Open Market Committee. “I think we are in good shape.’’
Trump has struggled to find candidates for the Fed who are acceptable to the senators who vote on whether to advance them through committee and later to confirm nominees. Conservative economic pundit Stephen Moore on May 2 was the latest Fed candidate to flame out, following businessman Herman Cain and economists Nellie Liang and Marvin Goodfriend.
Bullard would seem to be a good fit for the Trump administration. He’s suggested that Trump tax and fiscal policies might lead to a boom in investment spending, and he’s been vocally in favor of lower interest rates in recent years. Bullard didn’t identify who he had spoken with in the administration.
Likes ‘This Job’
“I have been approached on this, but like I said I am happy in my current position,’’ Bullard said. Asked whether he told them no, he added, “I told them just what I told you.”
“I think these kinds of discussions are exploratory in nature,’’ and ‘‘obviously it hasn’t gone any further,’’ Bullard said. “I told them what I told you. I really like this job, and I am happy in this job. I am already on the FOMC.’’
Leading the St. Louis Fed might have some advantages over a Fed governor’s position. The 12 Fed presidents typically have more freedom to give their opinions on monetary policy, dissent more regularly if they disagree with the majority and the chairman and have their own research staffs.
Bullard was the lone dissenter last week, favoring a rate cut while the FOMC held rates steady. It was the first dissent since Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s tenure began in February 2018. The FOMC’s policy statement on Wednesday noted that Bullard voted against the Fed’s decision because he “preferred at this meeting to lower the target range for the federal funds rate by 25 basis points.”
Bullard, 58, has been the most dovish participant on the Fed in the last three years, based on his publicly stated outlook for monetary policy.
Lately his arguments line up with some Trump administration officials and White House advisers who, in the absence of concerns that inflation will accelerate too quickly, want Powell to cut rates so the economy speeds up.