Powell takes reins at the Fed amid market selloff, jump in yields


Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

Jerome Powell, nominee to be chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, is sworn-in before testifying during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on November 28, 2017.

Jerome Powell will have his hands full now that he has become chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Powell, who was sworn in Monday, is the 16th person to hold the position. He faces an immediate set of challenges: a wobbly stock market, rising interest rates and the fallout from one of his predecessor’s final acts — the removal of four Wells Fargo board members.

Powell, 65, took the oath of office at 9 a.m. ET, succeeding Janet Yellen, who left the position Friday after serving a four-year term. President Donald Trump chose not to reappoint Yellen and instead turned to Powell, a former Fed governor expected mostly to continue to current Fed path.

“I am humbled and honored by this opportunity to serve the American people,” Powell said in a statement. “

“My colleagues and I will remain vigilant, and we are prepared to respond to evolving risks.”

However, continuing exactly down the same path could prove to be a challenge.

Both Yellen and Ben Bernanke before her dealt with a low-inflation, low-interest-rate economy that gave rise to a strong run in the stock market. Government bond yields, though, are now at multiyear highs, and the stock market is coming off a rough week that saw the Dow industrials lose 666 points Friday.

“As I begin my term, I want to stress my commitment to explaining what we’re doing and why we are doing it,” Powell said.

Powell also takes over the policymaking Federal Open Market Committee at a time when it has multiple holes to fill. Yellen’s departure leaves four vacancies on the seven-member FOMC. Trump has nominated Carnegie Mellon economist Marvin Goodfriend for one opening.

Markets widely expect the Fed to hike interest rates three times this year, with the first coming at the March meeting. The committee pushed up the benchmark rate a quarter point five times under Yellen.

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