Paul A. Volcker, who recently passed away, was a giant figure in modern economics. As head of the Federal Reserve, he took bold and unpopular steps to solve major economic problems, setting the stage for the prosperity we enjoy today, including the two longest expansions in US history.
President Trump has nominated Jerome H. Powell to be Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, succeeding Janet Yellen when her term expires in February. The Federal Reserve Chairmanship is among the most powerful positions in the public sector (or, in fact, anywhere), due to its substantial influence over the US economy and, indeed, the fortunes of nations throughout the world. The Chair serves a four-year term and can then be reappointed. Contrary to the usual pattern, President Trump decided against nominating Janet Yellen for a second term, though he praised her efforts and results. This move was highly unusual, as the Chair is almost invariably reappointed by Presidents in their first term when the economy is doing well.
The Federal Reserve will begin to pare down its nearly $4.5 trillion balance sheet this month, starting the process of reducing assets purchased during the global financial crisis and later quantitative easing (QE) to help the US economy recover from the "Great Recession." It's been almost a decade, and it is time for the unwinding of these positions to begin.
It's been almost a decade, but the Federal Reserve (Fed) is finally confident enough in the economy to begin actions to get back to normal after the "great recession." This is good news, because getting the Fed's balance sheet back in order is essential to future economic performance.