Trump nominates Fed's Powell to lead U.S. central bank

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Thursday tapped Fed Governor JeromePowell to become head of the U.S. central bank, promoting a soft-spoken centrist to replace Janet Yellen when her term expires in February 2018.

Powell, appointed to the Fed board in 2012 by then-President Barack Obama, emerged asTrump's choice from a five-person slate of possible nominees that included Yellen as well as others who would have represented a sharp change in monetary policy.

In an announcement at the White House, Trump called Powell a strong, committed and smart leader.

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Trump nominates Jerome Powell to lead U.S. Federal Reserve
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Trump nominates Jerome Powell to lead U.S. Federal Reserve
US President Donald Trump shakes hands as he announces his nominee for Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, November 2, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump announces his nominee for Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell (L), in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, November 2, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump announces his nominee for Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell (L), in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, November 2, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Jerome Powell listens as US President Donald Trump announces Powell as nominee for Chairman of the Federal Reserve in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, November 2, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Jerome Powell listens as US President Donald Trump announces Powell as nominee for Chairman of the Federal Reserve in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, November 2, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump announces Jerome Powell as his nominee to become chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., November 2, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
US President Donald Trump announces his nominee for Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, November 2, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Jerome Powell, governor of the U.S. Federal Reserve and Trump's nominee for chairman of the Federal Reserve, walk to a nomination announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017. If approved by the Senate, the 64-year-old former Carlyle Group LP managing director and ex-Treasury undersecretary would succeed Janet Yellen. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Jerome Powell (R) speaks after being nominated for Chairman of the Federal Reserve by US President Donald Trump (L) in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, November 2, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump announces his nominee for Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, November 2, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (L) signals the end of ceremony after announcing Jerome Powell (R) as nominee for Chairman of the Federal Reserve in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, November 2, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Jerome Powell (R) speaks after being nominated for Chairman of the Federal Reserve by US President Donald Trump (L) in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, November 2, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump walks with Jerome Powell, his nominee to be Federal Reserve chairman, at the White House in Washington, DC, on November 2, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump walks with Jerome Powell, his nominee to be Federal Reserve chairman, at the White House in Washington, DC, on November 2, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump walks with Jerome Powell, his nominee to be Federal Reserve chairman, at the White House in Washington, DC, on November 2, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Jerome Powell (R) leaves with US President Donald Trump leave after he was nominated for Chairman of the Federal Reserve in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, November 2, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump shakes hands with his nominee for Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell (R), in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, November 2, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives shakes hands with Jerome Powell, his nominee to become chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 2, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump announces Jerome Powell as his nominee to become chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., November 2, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives in the Rose Garden to announce Jerome Powell as his nominee to become chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 2, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
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"He has proved to be a consensus builder for the sound monetary and financial policy that he believes in ... based on his record I am confident that Jay has the wisdom and leadership to guide our economy," Trump said as the Fed nominee looked on.

The decision, which ended an unusually public, months-long search, offers a bit of both worlds, allowing Trump to select a new Fed chief while getting continuity with a Yellen-run central bank that has kept the economy and markets on an even keel.

Powell, a 64-year-old lawyer and former investment banker, has backed Yellen's general direction on monetary policy and, in recent years, shared her concerns that weak inflation justified a continued cautious approach to raising interest rates.

In June, he laid out both a defense of the Fed's gradualist path and a critique of those, including some of his competitors for the Fed's top job, who argued that the central bank had increased the risk of high inflation and other problems.

RELATED: Jerome Powell through the years

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Jerome Powell through the years
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Jerome Powell through the years
FILE: Jerome Powell, governor of the U.S. Federal Reserve, stands for a photograph at the board's headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, April 13, 2017. With the White House scheduling an announcement for 3 p.m. in Washington on Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump will announce Powell, 64, as his nominee to be Federal Reserve chairman, said several people familiar with the decision, replacing Chair Janet Yellen when her term expires in February. Our editors select the best archive images of Jerome Powell. Photographer: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg via Getty Images
FILE: Jerome Powell, governor of the U.S. Federal Reserve, stands for a photograph at the board's headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, April 13, 2017. With the White House scheduling an announcement for 3 p.m. in Washington on Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump will announce Powell, 64, as his nominee to be Federal Reserve chairman, said several people familiar with the decision, replacing Chair Janet Yellen when her term expires in February. Our editors select the best archive images of Jerome Powell. Photographer: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Jerome H. Powell, a governor on the board of the Federal Reserve System, prepares to testify to the Senate Banking Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 22, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Federal Reserve Board Governor Jerome Powell discusses financial regulation in Washington, U.S., October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Jerome H. Powell, a governor on the board of the Federal Reserve System, prepares to testify to the Senate Banking Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 22, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Jerome H. Powell, a governor on the board of the Federal Reserve System, prepares to testify to the Senate Banking Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 22, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman Christopher Giancarlo, Federal Reserve Board Governor Jerome Powell and moderator Reuters columnist Gina Chon discuss financial regulation in Washington, U.S., October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell attends the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City's annual Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming August 28, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Crosby
Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell delivers remarks during a conference at the Brookings Institution in Washington August 3, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell attends a conference at the Brookings Institution in Washington August 3, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen (L) congratulates Fed Governor Jerome Powell at his swearing-in ceremony for a new term on the Fed's board, in Washington in this handout photo taken and released June 16, 2014. REUTERS/U.S. Federal Reserve/Handout via Reuters (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS) ATTENTION EDITORS - FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Federal Reserve Board Governors Jeremy Stein (L) and Jerome Powell attend the swearing in of new Federal Reserve Board Chairwoman Janet Yellen at the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, February 3, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Bourg (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS)
Federal Reserve Board of Governors member Jerome Powell listens during an open board meeting at the Federal Reserve in Washington December 14, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS)
Federal Reserve Board of Governors member Jerome Powell listens during an open board meeting at the Federal Reserve in Washington December 14, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS)
Elissa Leonard looks on as her husband Jerome Powell is sworn in as a member of the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors by Chairman Ben Bernanke in Washington in this Federal Reserve System handout photo dated May 25, 2012. The former investment banker and U.S. Treasury official is due to fill a term expiring Jan. 31, 2014. REUTERS/Federal Reserve System/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Jerome Powell, governor of the U.S. Federal Reserve, left, shakes hands with Terry Lundgren, chairman of The Economic Club of New York and executive chairman of Macy's Inc., after speaking at an Economic Club of New York event in New York, U.S., on Thursday, June 1, 2017. Powell�is calling for gradual interest rate increases and a start to balance-sheet reductions later this year if the economy stays on track, though hes watching a recent slowdown in inflation. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Jerome Powell, governor of the U.S. Federal Reserve, speaks during an Economic Club of New York event in New York, U.S., on Thursday, June 1, 2017. Powell�is calling for gradual interest rate increases and a start to balance-sheet reductions later this year if the economy stays on track, though hes watching a recent slowdown in inflation. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Daniel Tarullo, left, and Jerome Powell, governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve, talk before the start of a meeting of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. The Federal Reserve took the final step to ensure it can't repeat the extraordinary steps taken to rescue American International Group Inc. and Bear Stearns Cos. in 2008, adopting formal restrictions on its ability to help failing financial firms. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Jeremy Stein, nominee to be a member of the board of governors with the U.S. Federal Reserve, right, listens to fellow nominee Jerome Powell speak during a Senate Banking Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 20, 2012. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke stands to gain two lieutenants with expertise on financial markets if the Senate confirms President Barack Obama's nominees to the Board of Governors. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Jerome Powell, nominee to be a member of the board of governors with the U.S. Federal Reserve, left, speaks during a Senate Banking Committee hearing with fellow nominee Jeremy Stein in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 20, 2012. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke stands to gain two lieutenants with expertise on financial markets if the Senate confirms President Barack Obama's nominees to the Board of Governors. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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Trump on several occasions has said he would prefer rates to stay low, a position at odds with some of those who were on his short list for the Fed job, particularly Stanford University economist John Taylor and former Fed Governor Kevin Warsh. Top White House economic adviser Gary Cohn also was a contender.

PRAISES FED PATIENCE

Powell has been a reliable supporter of the consensus forged by Yellen on the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee, and likely will be seen as a less risky choice with the economy growing solidly and U.S. stock markets near record highs.

The Fed has raised rates twice this year and is widely expected to do so again next month.

"The (FOMC) has been patient in raising rates, and that patience has paid dividends," Powell said in his remarks to the Economic Club of New York in June."

"After a tumultuous decade, the economy is now close to full employment and price stability. The problems that some commentators predicted have not come to pass. Accommodative policy did not generate high inflation or excessive credit growth."

But Powell has gone further than his colleagues in calling to relax some of the stricter regulations imposed after the 2007-2009 financial crisis and recession, also one of Trump's goals. Powell can now pursue that end along with Trump appointee Randal Quarles, the Fed's new vice chair for supervision.

Though he will be the first Fed chief since the late 1970s without an advanced degree in economics, Powell brings market insights, Fed board experience and ties to the Republican Party that analysts argued likely make for a smooth transition and relatively easy Senate confirmation.

Under President George H.W. Bush, Powell oversaw policy on financial institutions and debt markets as an undersecretary of the Treasury. From 1997 to 2005 he was a partner at the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, and focused on public debt dynamics while at the Bipartisan Policy Center think tank.

"The kernel of what this boiled down to is that in selecting Powell, (Trump) has all but selected Yellen," said Sarah Binder, a political science professor at George Washington University and author of a recent book on Fed politics. "There is not really much daylight, if any."

Yellen is entitled to remain as a Fed governor until 2024, though previous central bank chiefs have traditionally not stayed once a successor was in place.

(Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Paul Simao)

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