August 28, 2018 / 8:36 PM / 2 months ago

U.S. Senate votes to confirm Fed vice chair nominee Clarida

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate voted on Tuesday to confirm Richard Clarida as vice chair of the Federal Reserve, one of the most powerful positions at the central bank.

Clarida, a managing director at fund manager Pimco and an economics professor at Columbia University, was nominated by President Donald Trump in April. The Senate vote, which was bipartisan, was 69-26. On a voice vote, the chamber also confirmed Clarida as a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

Clarida, whose term as vice chair will last four years, is seen as a key ally of Fed Chair Jerome Powell and has aligned himself with centrists at the Fed in supporting gradual interest rate rises.

Powell reiterated that stance during a speech last week in which he said a policy of steady rate hikes was the best way to keep the economy healthy, maintain strong job growth and control inflation.

The Fed has raised borrowing costs seven times as part of a tightening cycle that began in December 2015. It is widely expected to raise rates again at its next policy meeting, on Sept. 25-26.

Clarida’s confirmation helps fill the ranks on the Fed’s influential Board of Governors, which has been operating with only three out of a potential seven members.

He joins Trump’s other two mainstream picks, Powell and Randal Quarles, who currently sit on the board with Lael Brainard, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama.

Two other Trump nominees, Michelle Bowman and Marvin Goodfriend, are still awaiting confirmation by the Senate.

Bowman, nominated at the same time as Clarida, has run the Kansas State Bank Commission since 2017. She would fill a position at the Fed reserved for someone with community banking experience. That position has been unfilled since 2014. The Senate Banking Committee approved Bowman’s nomination in June by a healthy margin.

Goodfriend, a Carnegie Mellon economics professor, passed the Senate panel by just one vote in early February, with all Democrats on the panel voting again his nomination, following a contentious hearing. His nomination has since stalled as it became clear it may not pass a vote in the full Senate.

Policymakers have said they will not be affected by Trump’s recent criticism of the Fed’s push for higher borrowing costs.

Reporting by Susan Cornwell and Lindsay Dunsmuir; Editing by Leslie Adler

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