What Powell brings to Fed post: A gift for forging consensus

Published 8:23 pm Thursday, November 2, 2017

WASHINGTON — As a choice to lead the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell defies any recent mold.

He isn’t a trained economist. He’s produced no trail of research. He built a fortune as an investment manager.

Yet by the reckoning of Fed analysts — those who know him and those who don’t — Powell is equipped to lead the world’s most influential central bank, presiding over a U.S. economy on solid ground but hardly without risks.

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What Powell brings to the position most of all, they say, are a formidable intelligence, an appreciation of intellectual diversity and a gift for forging agreement. And in five years on the Fed’s board of governors, he has schooled himself in monetary policy while becoming a specialist in areas from banking regulation to the U.S. payments system.

A moderate who is expected to follow the cautious approach to interest rates of the current Fed chair, Janet Yellen, Powell could serve as a steadying force for the U.S. economy as well as a unifying figure among the central bank’s policymakers. As a Fed governor, Powell has never dissented from a central bank decision.