Biden says he hasn’t spoken to Fed Chairman Powell


US President Joe Biden said Tuesday that he has not spoken with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, noting that the central bank is an independent agency.

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“I believe that the Federal Reserve is an independent operation and as I begin my presidency I want to make it very clear that I am not going to do the kinds of things that have been done in the last administration,” Biden told reporters.

Biden still has significant room to make his mark on the Fed. Powell’s term ends next February, when Biden may choose to extend his appointment, and there is an empty seat on the Fed’s Board of Governors.

Biden has already withdrawn Judy Shelton’s nomination for former President Donald Trump to fill that position.

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The Fed was designed to maintain a degree of independence in setting interest rates and other key policies of politicians.

Trump openly clashed with Powell, whom he named, threatening to fire him multiple times for not keeping rates low enough. The Fed eventually lowered rates near zero percent, where it held them as the economy weathered the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Biden has closely coordinated economic policy with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, a former Fed chairman and Powell’s colleague. When asked about Powell, Biden mentioned that he talks to Yellen regularly.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt and Jarrett Renshaw; Edited by Leslie Adler)

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