The panel also backed the nominations of former senior U.S. Treasury
official Lael Brainard and current Fed Governor Jerome Powell, who
was nominated for another term. All three nominees were approved on
a unanimous voice vote.
The nominations are now cleared to go before the full Senate for
final confirmation votes. A date for Senate consideration has not
yet been officially set.
Former Fed officials say the Senate needs to act fast to confirm the
nominees, given the heavy workload the board faces with only a few
governors in place.
People familiar with the matter said that a full confirmation of the
three is expected by the Memorial Day recess in late May, though it
was still unclear whether Democrats and Republicans will agree on
With Fed Governor Jeremy Stein leaving in late May to return to
academia, the normally seven-person board would fall to three
members for the first time in its more than 100-year history if the
Senate does not move quickly.
"If the Fed goes down to three in June, it's reprehensible," said
Northern Trust economist Carl Tannenbaum, who has worked for both
the Fed board in Washington and at the Federal Reserve Bank of
Fed policy makers began a two-day meeting on Tuesday. At its
previous meeting, the board voted to reduce the monthly pace of bond
purchases by $10 billion, to $55 billion, and said more reductions
in "measured steps" were likely. The next FOMC meeting is set for
June 17-18, which includes Yellen's second press conference.
The Fed also has 12 regional branches, whose presidents rotate
through five voting positions each year.
Fischer's previous roles include the No. 2 spot at the International
Monetary Fund, chief economist at the World Bank and vice chairman
The 70-year-old, who was born in Zambia, is highly regarded in
monetary policy circles for his extensive international experience,
his academic career teaching economics at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, and his successful stint at the top of
Israel's central bank.
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The combination of veteran Fed policymaker Janet Yellen leading the
central bank and Fischer as second in command comes with high
expectations, though Fed watchers will have to wait and see just how
well the two work together in their roles.
Brainard, 52, served until recently as a top financial diplomat at
the U.S. Treasury and had previously worked at the White House under
President Bill Clinton. Predicting her influence on the Fed is more
difficult than it is for Fischer, given her lack of experience with
Among the biggest strengths she brings to the Fed is her
international policy background, including experience working with
European officials during the height of the euro zone crisis.
Brainard also worked as a consultant at McKinsey and taught at MIT.
Powell, 61, served at the Treasury under President George H.W. Bush
and worked at private equity firm Carlyle Group. While his term at
the central bank ended in January, Fed governors can serve until
replaced or confirmed to a new term.
Even if Fischer, Brainard and Powell are confirmed, as analysts
widely expect, two empty spots would remain on the board after Stein
leaves. President Barack Obama is said to be considering someone
with community banking expertise for one of those positions.
(Reporting by Michael Flaherty; editing by Paul Simao and Chizu
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