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Trump To Announce Pick To Lead Federal Reserve

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Another item on the president's agenda today - he's going to announce a new head of the Federal Reserve. During a meeting with his Cabinet yesterday, President Trump said, "I think you will be extremely impressed by this person." That's a quote. NPR's John Ydstie reports the likely nominee is Jerome Powell. He's a current Fed governor.

JOHN YDSTIE, BYLINE: The term of the current Fed chair, Janet Yellen, expires early next year. President Trump interviewed a handful of candidates for the job. There are multiple reports he's chosen Powell. Fed watcher Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group, says in choosing Powell, President Trump is choosing continuity with Yellen's approach.

GUS FAUCHER: We've seen rates gradually move up over the past couple of years. And I think that we would continue to see that gradual increase with Governor Powell going to chair.

YDSTIE: Powell, who's a Republican, was first nominated to be a Fed governor by Democrat Barack Obama. Unlike most recent leaders of the Fed, he is not a Ph.D. economist. Powell was trained as a lawyer then went to Wall Street and became an investment banker. He later was a partner at the very highly successful Washington-based private equity firm The Carlyle Group. In addition to setting interest rates, which affect economic growth and job creation, the Fed is an important bank regulator. Powell has been generally supportive of the Dodd-Frank overhaul of regulations following the financial crisis, but Faucher says he may seek some changes.

FAUCHER: Governor Powell has talked about the need to perhaps loosen some of those regulations. So I think that is an area where we might see more significant difference with Chair Yellen.

YDSTIE: Presidential nominees to the Fed must be approved by the Senate. Powell is likely to get that approval, though his similarity to Yellen could irritate some lawmakers who've criticized her leadership. The president could have reappointed the current chair and has been very complimentary of the job Yellen has done. At a Cabinet meeting yesterday, Trump said, I think Yellen is excellent. But the president appears to want to put his own stamp on the Fed, and choosing Jerome Powell could help him do that, even though Powell is more like Yellen than any of the other candidates the president considered.

John Ydstie, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

John Ydstie has covered the economy, Wall Street, and the Federal Reserve at NPR for nearly three decades. Over the years, NPR has also employed Ydstie's reporting skills to cover major stories like the aftermath of Sept. 11, Hurricane Katrina, the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. He was a lead reporter in NPR's coverage of the global financial crisis and the Great Recession, as well as the network's coverage of President Trump's economic policies. Ydstie has also been a guest host on the NPR news programs Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. Ydstie stepped back from full-time reporting in late 2018, but plans to continue to contribute to NPR through part-time assignments and work on special projects.