Trump Fed pick faces skep­ti­cism in hear­ing

Baltimore Sun - - ENTERTAINM­ENT - By Christo­pher Rugaber

WASH­ING­TON — One of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s nom­i­nees for the Fed­eral Re­serve came un­der sharp ques­tion­ing Thurs­day from sen­a­tors over her un­ortho­dox eco­nomic views, in­clud­ing from two Repub­li­cans whose doubts about her nom­i­na­tion could im­peril it.

The nom­i­nee, Judy Shel­ton, sought to make her un­con­ven­tional views an as­set by promis­ing to bring “in­tel­lec­tual diver­sity” to the Fed. Shel­ton has pre­vi­ously ex­pressed sup­port for a wide range of out-of-the-main­stream perspectiv­es, in­clud­ing ty­ing the dollar’s value to gold. She has also raised con­cerns among econ­o­mists and Fed watch­ers by ques­tion­ing the need for the cen­tral bank’s independen­ce.

Af­ter the hear­ing, two key Repub­li­cans — Sens. Pat Toomey of Penn­syl­va­nia and Richard Shelby of Alabama — re­it­er­ated their mis­giv­ings about her nom­i­na­tion. A third, Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, said he was un­de­cided.

With three Repub­li­cans lean­ing against her or un­de­cided, Shel­ton’s nom­i­na­tion is at risk of re­main­ing stuck in the Bank­ing Com­mit­tee. She would need all the Repub­li­can votes on the com­mit­tee to rec­om­mend her nom­i­na­tion to the full Se­nate. The com­mit­tee has a slim Repub­li­can ma­jor­ity of 13-12. Repub­li­cans also con­trol the Se­nate.

Dur­ing the hear­ing, Toomey crit­i­cized Shel­ton’s view that the Fed should con­sider act­ing to lower the value of the dollar if other na­tions ap­peared to be ma­nip­u­lat­ing their own cur­ren­cies.

“I think that’s a very, very dan­ger­ous path to go down,” Toomey said. “It’s not in the Fed’s man­date.”

Econ­o­mists gen­er­ally con­sider such poli­cies, some­times re­ferred to as “beg­gar thy neigh­bor,” as risky and in­ef­fec­tive. Toomey later told re­porters that Shel­ton’s an­swers failed to sat­isfy his con­cerns.

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