Jerome Powell became chairman of the U.S. central bank, better known as the Federal Reserve (Fed), on February 3, 2018. His predecessor Janet Yellen is the first chairman of the Fed since World War II to serve only one four-year term, and was the first woman to hold that position.
Powell has inherited a healthier economy than Yellen did, with unemployment at 4.1 %, a 17-year low.
A former investment banker, Powell will be the first Fed chairman in 40 years who doesn’t have a PhD in economics. Trained as a lawyer, Powell made his money (estimated between $20 million and $55 million in November 2017) as an investment manager—his appointment could play towards President Donald Trump’s plan to loosen Wall Street regulations in order to push economic growth.
Although he has indicated that he is in favor of retaining the Dodd-Frank reforms which came after the financial crisis, in January 2017 he urged the U.S. Congress to rewrite the Volcker rule, which restricts banks from proprietary banking, to benefit smaller banks.
“I don’t want to speak for the President but I suspect [Powell’s] background in the private industry may be something he finds attractive,” Steve Wood, chief market strategist at Russell Investments, told Forbes when Powell’s appointment was announced in November 2017.
A graduate of Princeton, Powell was a partner at private equity and asset management titan The Carlyle Group for eight years. President Barack Obama appointed him to the Fed’s board of governors in 2012, has been a Fed governor for more than five years, and has helped shaped policy under Yellen.
Yellen is entitled to remain on the Fed’s board of governors until 2024.