President Donald Trump is weighing the virtues of potential candidates to lead the Federal Reserve for the next four years. Much to libertarians’ disappointment, the early names are all the same, shying away from the president’s initial criticisms of the U.S. central bank and avoiding the many calls for “Ending the Fed.”
Right now, it appears the leading candidates to helm the Fed are incumbent Fed Chair Janet Yellen, former Fed governor Kevin Warsh, current Fed governor Jerome Powell, Trump’s top economic adviser Gary Cohn, and Stanford University economist John Taylor.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told reporters on Thursday that the administration is still in the preliminary stages of finding the next central bank leader. Unfortunately, if this is the best the President has to offer, then nothing is really going to change over the next few years when it comes to monetary policy in the age of Trump.
The Best of the Worst
For years, critics of the Federal Reserve have said it is the system that needs changing, and not necessarily the person leading the central bank. But significant changes can’t be made unless someone is willing to tear down the Eccles Building brick by brick.
Let’s take a gander at each candidate.
Is Taylor the best of the worst? Some may think so, primarily because he has been a staunch detractor of the Fed’s easy-money stimulus policies of the last decade. However, that is as far as you can go in supporting Taylor.
He is a typical neoteric Keynesian central planner. According to The Wall Street Journal, one of his biggest ideas is instituting a mathematical formula to guide the Fed’s decision-making on interest rates. Rather than suggesting the market should handle interest rates, Taylor simply wants to maintain the status quo but with math.
Moreover, he has received widespread celebration from former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke and his successor. Bernanke said that Taylor has had an “influence on monetary theory,” while Yellen noted that his work “has affected the way policymakers and economists analyze the economy and approach monetary policy.”
Considering how the Fed has impacted the national economy, these aren’t exactly compliments.
Analysts do not think Cohn will make the shortlist, and this might be a good thing in the end. He is a cronyist and a globalist, and he supports resurrecting the Glass-Steagall Act. Cohn is also a registered Democrat, a party that thinks the worst aspect of Fed policy is not enough diversity on the board.
Warsh had been at the Fed for five years – he was nominated by former President George W. Bush and resigned in 2011. Like his colleagues, including Yellen, he did not foresee the financial crisis. He also voted for Bernanke’s quantitative easing measures, though there was some apprehension because he feared inflation risks. It is true that inflation has yet to spike, but the unwinding of the $4 trillion balance sheet will inevitably lead to higher price inflation.
Reportedly, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is pushing President Trump to nominate Powell. This would be foolish, considering his adoration for the printing press. He is conventional, he hasn’t lashed out against certain policy decisions, and he is someone the easy money dependent market seems to favor – Treasuries tumbled when reports suggested Warsh was the frontrunner.
In November 2014, Powell argued that artificially low-interest rates are not creating a stock market bubble. Since then, the market has formed multiple bubbles; everything from bonds to tech. Candidate Trump regularly argued on the campaign trail that low rates produced bubbles.
According to PredictIt, Warsh is the frontrunner, followed by Powell and Yellen.
Is Trump’s Fed More of the Same?
Prior to and during the early part of his presidential campaign, Trump would go after the Fed and Yellen. It wasn’t at the level of three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul, but it was still admirable because no one else was even jabbing the Fed – not even Senator Rand Paul (R-KY).
One of the greatest attacks he lodged against the central bank happened in September 2016, when he averred that the Fed is a political institution and is generating a “false stock market.” The media pounced on Trump and claimed that the central bank is anything but political, something that is demonstrably false.
Economist and historian Thomas DiLorenzo wrote:
“The Fed operates for the benefit of its executive branch controllers, the banking industry, and Fed employees themselves, at the expense of the rest of society which suffers from the economic instability it creates. Worse yet, many Americans have been conned into believing that the Fed Chairman operates like the Wizard of Oz, hiding behind dark curtains, pulling levers and pushing buttons to make the economy operate smoothly. So-called “scientific socialism” may have been the most absurd and destructive idea of the twentieth century, but it is nevertheless the guiding ideology of central banking.”
From the days of former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the Nixon administration, the Fed has played an active role at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Whoever President Trump selects, it will just be business as usual – a printing press and manipulation of interest rates to benefit the White House.
Trump needs to think outside the box and quit depending on the establishment.
Soon after Election Day, there was a small social media movement encouraging President Trump to tap Dr. Paul as the next chairman of the Federal Reserve. It was always unlikely to happen, and Paul probably would turn the offer down, but this is something that Trump needs to mull over.
Jeff Deist, Joseph Salerno, Robert Murphy, Walter Block. These are names that should at least be in consideration – with a month to go until the announcement, you won’t hear theirs. More of the same is not the answer. What happened to draining the swamp?
Want to drain the swamp? Better yet, just End the Fed!
Who do you want to be the next Federal Reserve chair? Let us know in the comments section!
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