As Chair of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell supervises the United States’ central banking system. Described by former Federal Reserve Chair and University professor Ben Bernanke as “a consensus builder,” Powell has provoked sharp criticism from President Donald Trump, who nominated him. In particular, Trump has denounced Powell’s decisions to gradually raise interest rates and reduce the purchasing of financial assets through quantitative easing.
Earlier this year, as the COVID-19 pandemic precipitated an economic recession, Powell abruptly abandoned those policies. The Federal Reserve slashed its benchmark rate to nearly 0 percent and purchased $700 billion worth of financial assets in March.
In 2012, Powell was first confirmed to the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, alongside fellow Princetonian Jeremy C. Stein ’83. In 2016, Trump nominated him to succeed Janet Yellen as the 16th Chair. The U.S. Senate confirmed the politics concentrator by an 83–14 vote.