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Minneapolis Fed seeks 'thought leader' as dovish chief exits
June 8, 2015 / 7:33 PM / 2 years ago

Minneapolis Fed seeks 'thought leader' as dovish chief exits

Narayana Kocherlakota, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, speaks at the ninth annual Carroll School of Management Finance Conference at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts June 5, 2014.Brian Snyder

(Reuters) - The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis on Monday launched a search for a "strategic thought leader" to replace current president Narayana Kocherlakota, who is returning to academia after years of failing to persuade colleagues in the U.S. central bank to support more accommodative monetary policy.

Kocherlakota, a university professor before becoming Minneapolis Fed president in 2009, will be an economics professor at the University of Rochester, in New York state, starting Jan. 1.

He will be the third of the Fed's 12 regional bank presidents to leave this year, a critical time as the Fed debates when and how fast to raise interest rates it has kept near zero since December 2008.

The two others, Dallas Fed chief Richard Fisher and Philadelphia Fed chief Charles Plosser, were among the Fed's most hawkish policymakers. They both retired in March.

The Minneapolis Fed's six non-bank directors will spearhead the search to replace Kocherlakota, aiming to have a new chief by the end of December, search committee co-chair MayKao Hang said in a video posted to the bank's website.

The panel wants a person committed to public service who has "the intellectual rigor and expertise to contribute to federal monetary policy," she said. The bank posted a detailed job description, an unusual step in what is often a closely guarded and sometimes insular process.

Patrick Harker, a director on the Philadelphia Fed's board, starts as the bank's president next month. The Dallas Fed's search, formally launched last November, is "moving along fine," a spokesman told Reuters, declining to provide details.

All three new leaders will vote on Fed policy in 2017 under a system of rotating seats among the 12-bank regional system.

Crisscrossing his sprawling district, Kocherlakota has publicly staked out a preference for easier monetary policy than any of his colleagues, most recently calling on the Fed to keep rates low until the second half of 2016. Most Fed officials feel the U.S. economy will be ready for rate hikes sometime this year.

Last month Kocherlakota voiced disappointment over his inability to convince his colleagues that keeping rates lower for longer could help bring more Americans back to work.

"I wish I were more persuasive," he told reporters. "On the other hand, I hope they are right and I am wrong.”

Hawks typically worry too-high inflation and want to raise rates sooner than later, while doves tend to focus on too-low employment.

Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by James Dalgleish

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