Jerome Powell’s future as chair of the Fed could be affected by its pandemic response.


Jerome H. Powell, the 67-year-old chair of the Federal Reserve, will face pressure from all sides in 2021, and he could find himself auditioning for his own job. His term expires in early 2022, which means that President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. will choose whether to renominate him.

Mr. Powell, a Republican who was made a Fed governor by President Barack Obama and elevated to his current position by President Trump, has yet to say publicly whether he wants to be reappointed, reports The New York Times’s Jeanna Smialek.

His chances could be affected by the Fed’s coronavirus crisis response, which has been credited as early and swift.

“We crossed a lot of red lines that had not been crossed before,” Mr. Powell said at an event in May.

The Fed rolled out nearly the entire menu of emergency loan programs it used during the 2008 financial crisis, and it teamed up with the Treasury Department to announce programs that had never been tried — including plans to support lending to small and medium-size businesses and buy corporate debt. In early April, it tacked on a plan to get credit flowing to states.

But the Fed’s extraordinary actions in 2020 weren’t aimed only at keeping credit flowing. Mr. Powell and other top Fed officials pushed for more government spending to help businesses and households, an uncharacteristically bold stance for an institution that tries mightily to avoid politics. As the Fed took a more expansive view of its mission, it weighed in on climate change, racial equity and other issues its leaders had typically avoided.

In Washington, reactions to the Fed’s bigger role have been swift and divided. Democrats want the Fed to do more, portraying the attention to climate-related financial risks as a welcome step but just a beginning. Republicans have worked to restrict the Fed to ensure that the role it has played in this pandemic does not outlast the crisis.



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