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The Fed: Red, White, or Blue?

The Fed: Red, White, or Blue?

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Wednesday, 10 August 2016 07:04 AM Current | Bio | Archive

While Fed officials have the same civil rights as the rest of us, their policymaking is supposed to be politically neutral. Nevertheless, politics, like religion, can influence one’s world view.

I asked Melissa Tagg, Director of Research Projects & Operations, to investigate the political affiliations of the five Fed governors for starters. She reports that three obviously are Democrats, with two of them having clear ties to the Clintons. When all is said and done, a rate hike before the presidential election would likely benefit Donald Trump at the expense of Hillary Clinton. Yellen can count on Hillary’s support if she is elected; Trump has indicated that he wouldn’t be a friend. Consider the following:

  • (1) Yellen. Fed Chair Yellen is certainly a liberal Democrat at heart. Donald Trump said he wouldn’t reappoint her at the end of her term. Trump has even gone as far as accusing Yellen of keeping interest rates low for political reasons, according to a 2015 MarketWatch article. Hillary Clinton has stayed away from commenting on the specifics of monetary policies. However, Clinton’s campaign has expressed her support for increasing diversity within the Fed, noted the 5/12 Washington Post. Of course, President Barack Obama appointed Yellen to her current role. And the only votes against her Senate appointment were by Republicans, reported Reuters in 2014.
  • (2) Brainard. Fed Governor Lael Brainard made headlines in March for donating $750 of her own personal funds to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. She did so in three contributions between November and January, which overlapped with her Fed term. While the donations technically didn’t break any Fed rules, she is the only Fed governor to have donated to a presidential candidate during this election cycle. This was all reported in a 3/8 Bloomberg article titled “Fed Governor Donates to Clinton as Bank Guards Independence.” Brainard worked under both the Obama and Clinton administrations. Fortune has even called Brainard the front-runner for Treasury Secretary should Hillary Clinton take office. Brainard’s husband, Kurt Campbell, was a top adviser to Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State, according to Bloomberg.
  • (3) Tarullo. Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo also held several senior positions during the Clinton administration. According to his bio on the Fed’s website: “From 1993 to 1998, Mr. Tarullo served, successively, as Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs, Deputy Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, and Assistant to the President for International Economic Policy. He also served as a principal on both the National Economic Council and the National Security Council. From 1995 to 1998, Mr. Tarullo also served as President Clinton's personal representative to the G-7/G-8 group of industrialized nations.”
  • (4) Powell. Fed Governor Jerome Powell, a Republican, was nominated to his post by President Obama at the same time as former Fed Governor Jeremy Stein, a Democrat. Senate Republicans had filibustered Stein’s nomination until the package deal of the two was presented. Powell is a self-described fiscal conservative. “The pairing [was] a carefully weighted gesture, a pragmatic attempt to satisfy Senate Republicans who have repeatedly refused to allow votes on nominees for regulatory positions,” noted a 2011 NYT article. According to Powell’s bio on the Fed’s website, Powell worked under President George H.W. Bush’s administration. Powell also brings to the Fed governors’ table experience in high-powered positions within private equity and investment banking.
  • (5) Fischer. Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer’s political ties are less conspicuous. Fischer’s work history is a bit of a dichotomy from a political standpoint. He came to the Fed with high-profile experience at a big US bank--vice chairman of Citigroup, 2002-2005--and, conversely, two major purportedly non-partisan organizations whose policies have tilted towards the left: the IMF (first deputy managing director) and World Bank (chief economist). Before joining the Fed, Fischer was governor of the Bank of Israel. Interestingly, Fischer gave a 2001 speech at Harvard University titled: “International Economic Policy Under the Clinton Administration.” In the speech, Fischer discussed how the former Clinton administration and IMF worked together to avert financial disasters around the world. He stated: “Over the course of its existence, the Clinton administration progressively moved away from attempts to handle problems bilaterally, towards involving the IMF much more quickly. And as the IMF reformed itself, it was quickly involved in crises in any event. That was good for the system, and good for the administration.”

Dr. Ed Yardeni is the President of Yardeni Research, Inc., a provider of independent global investment strategy research. To read more of his blogs, CLICK HERE NOW.


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While Fed officials have the same civil rights as the rest of us, their policymaking is supposed to be politically neutral. Nevertheless, politics, like religion, can influence one’s world view.
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Wednesday, 10 August 2016 07:04 AM
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