Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell swore in three members of the central bank’s governing board Wednesday, including Philip Jefferson as vice chair and Adriana Kugler to fill a vacant seat as the central bank’s first Latina governor.
The officials, all appointed by U.S. President Joe Biden, aren’t expected to alter the Fed’s policies in the near term, as most economists expect the Fed to keep its key interest rate unchanged at its next meeting Sept. 19-20. Yet the Fed could lift its rate one more time this year if inflation doesn’t cool fast enough. A report Wednesday showed inflation slowing but only gradually.
As the Fed grapples with how to fine-tune interest rates going forward, the three officials could argue against more rate hikes or even push to cut rates, out of concern that excessively high rates could tip the economy into recession. As Fed governors, they will vote at the Fed’s eight yearly meetings on interest rate policies as well as on changes to financial regulations.
Kugler, a Georgetown University economist, will fill a seat on the Fed’s seven-member board of governors vacated by Lael Brainard, who left to become a top economic adviser to Biden. Kugler will serve out the remainder of Brainard’s term, until Jan. 31, 2026.
Kugler, whose background is in international and labour economics, has been on leave from Georgetown to serve as the United States’ representative on the board of the World Bank. During the Obama administration, she was the Labor Department’s chief economist, from September 2011 to January 2013.
Jefferson, who first joined the board last year, was sworn in as vice chair and will work closely with Powell on interest rate policy. His term as vice chair will end Sept. 7, 2027, though he can remain on the board as a governor until 2036.
Jefferson was a top administrator at Davidson College in North Carolina before being nominated by Biden and holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Virginia.
Lisa Cook, the first Black woman to be appointed a Fed governor, was sworn in for a second term that will end in 2038. Cook also joined the board last year, to fill out an unexpired term. Cook was a professor of economics and international relations at Michigan State University, and also taught at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. She was a Marshall scholar at Oxford University and holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley.