Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell speaks at a news conference following a meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee May 4, 2022 in Washington, DC. Powell announced that the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates by half a percentage point to fight record-high inflation.
Win Mcnamee | Getty Images
As he and his colleagues engage in a grueling inflationary battle, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell learned on Thursday that he will be serving another term in office.
The Senate voted 80-19 to give Powell a second four-year term at the helm of the central bank, ending a long-delayed vote that had been stewed since President Joe Biden nominated the 69-year-old former investment banker in November.
Delays had occurred as senators debated other candidates Biden had made for the central bank. Sarah Bloom Raskin withdrew her name after controversy over her appointment, while Lisa Cook and Philip Jefferson were recently confirmed as governors.
“Chairman Powell’s leadership has helped spur economic growth while maintaining the most capitalized banking system in American history,” said Senator Patrick Toomey, the senior Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, in a statement.
In electing Powell, Biden is picking a policymaker first put in the position by President Donald Trump, who ridiculed the chairman and his fellow politicians as a “sucker” when they hiked interest rates.
Powell then found himself in the midst of one of the country’s deepest crises as Covid-19 raged into a global pandemic in March 2020.
He orchestrated a series of maneuvers designed to pull the nation out of its steepest downturn in history, using a mix of lending and market stimulus programs, combined with cutting interest rates to near zero and instituting a bond-buying program that would the Fed would explode holdings to $9 trillion.
More recently, Powell and the Fed faced another crisis — the worst inflationary spurt since the early 1980s, with inflation rising more than 8% annually over the past two months. Powell has been criticized for moving too slowly to address the threat, even as the Fed hiked interest rates by half a percentage point last week, the most aggressive move in 22 years.
In a rare digression, Powell addressed the public directly last week and said the Fed is determined to cut rates and will use all the tools at its disposal to do so.