The Hunt for the Next Fed Chairman

As Ben Bernanke’s term as Fed Chairman nears its end, the race to find the next central bank head honcho is heating up. Take note that this will be one of President Barack Obama’s biggest decisions, as whoever is in charge of the Federal Reserve will set the direction of monetary policy for the next several years and will play a key component in promoting Obama’s policies as well.

Recently, Obama spoke on this topic and revealed the qualities he’s looking for in the next Fed Chairman. Nope, Obama ain’t looking for anyone who resembles him (tall, dark, and handsome), but rather someone who would uphold the Fed’s dual mandate of maximum employment and price stability.

So while it is still possible that Bernanke could be nominated for a third term, Vegas odds are that he will be replaced. As it is, there are two main contenders who have separated themselves from the rest of the pack.

Lawrence Summers

Summers is most famous for serving as the Treasury Secretary during the Clinton administration and being a former economic assistant to Obama. That latter portion may be the biggest reason why some oddsmakers believe that Summers has more than a fighting chance to be the President’s pick.

Analysts also believe that Summers best fits the description that Obama lined out as his prerequisites for the Fed Chairman post. Summers is seen as someone who is quite hawkish and less aggressive about quantitative easing, which is in line with Fed’s inflation mandate.

Summers’ biggest obstacle though is that he doesn’t appear to have the backing of members in the Senate. Some lawmakers see Summers as someone who supported deregulation and pushed for derivatives, which some see as a major contribution to the beginning of the financial crisis. It remains to be seen whether Summers is charming enough to win enough support for his campaign.

Janet Yellen

The other possible choice is none other than Janet Yellen. She is considered as a top candidate because of four key reasons.

First is that she has a ton of experience working within the government financial system. Since the mid-1990s, Janet Yellen has been in the financial arena. She initially served as Fed Governor and then went on to head President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers. Then, in 2004, she became the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. After 6 years, she was appointed as the Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.

Her experience has given her exceptional foresight when it comes to economic matters. When the financial crisis was beginning to gain momentum, for instance, Yellen was one of the first members to realize that a recession was coming. While other policymakers were expecting a “moderate pace of growth,” Yellen saw downside risks to growth and saw the Fed’s focus on inflation as bothering.

Another thing that sets Yellen apart from other candidates is that she has the backing of lawmakers. It was revealed in a letter that Senate Democrats looked highly on Yellen’s experience and believed that Obama should nominate her. Furthermore, it appears that the market loves her as well. In a poll run by the CNBC, 70% of the 40 surveyed believes that Obama should pick Yellen to replace incumbent Chairman Ben Bernanke.

And finally, Yellen is a great candidate because she would be able to follow through on the policies that Bernanke already began to implement during his term. Continuity is important, and creating a new set of policies could cripple the economy’s recovery.

There you have it, folks! Who do you think will Obama choose to be the next Federal Reserve Chairman? Cast your votes below!