WASHINGTON – The US Senate easily confirmed Jerome Powell on Tuesday as the next chairman of the Federal Reserve to replace Janet Yellen in the post in February.
In an 85-12 vote, the confirmation of Powell – a member of the US central bank’s Board of Governors since 2012 – was virtually a mere formality, although after the vote count Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein changed her vote saying that she had initially misvoted, leaving the final tally at 84 in favor and 13 against.
Trump had nominated the 64-year-old Powell – who will be the first Fed chairman without an advanced degree in economics – last November, after deciding not to ask Yellen to serve a second four-year term as chairman even though she has garnered widespread praise for her work at the head of the US central bank.
The president had said that there are few posts more important than Fed chairman and he highly praised Yellen for her four years of work after succeeding Ben Bernanke in the post.
The next meeting of the Fed, on Jan. 30-31, will be the last at which Yellen will preside.
With Powell’s nomination, Trump confirmed analysts suspicions, who see the incoming Fed chief as a figure representing continuity with Yellen’s economic policy of gradual monetary adjustment and the withdrawal of the billions in economic stimulus implemented after the 2008-2010 financial crisis.
During his 5 1/2 years on the Fed board, Powell has always voted with the majority of the governors.
The Federal Reserve raised interest rates three times in 2017 to the 1.25-1.5 percent range, and it is expected that it will approve three additional hikes in 2018 in accord with increases in inflation.