April 9, 2019 / 6:48 PM / 8 days ago

Moore 'superbly underqualified' for Fed, vice chair of joint congressional committee says

(Reuters) - Stephen Moore, the economic commentator whom President Donald Trump plans to nominate to the Federal Reserve Board, lacks the expertise and political independence needed to help set interest rates for the U.S. economy, a top Congressional Democrat said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) is seen in a hearing room on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Bourg/File Photo

“Mr. Moore is superbly underqualified for the role for which he has been nominated,” Representative Carolyn Maloney, vice chair of the Joint Economic Committee, wrote in a letter to Republican Senator Mike Crapo and Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown, the chair and vice chair, respectively, of the Senate banking committee.

Maloney cited Moore’s “out of the mainstream views,” including support for the gold standard, and “his record of partisan statements that casts doubt on his ability to serve independently as a member of the central bank.” Moore “in no way” fits the description of a data-driven policy expert whom Maloney said is needed at the Fed to guide the economy.

The two-page letter, which includes a list of citations, ups the political pressure around Moore’s nomination, even before his name has been officially submitted to the Senate for approval as a nominee.

Moore is currently undergoing background checks for the post, a process he described on Monday as about as pleasant as a colonoscopy.

Trump has repeatedly criticized the Fed for raising rates, and his pick of Moore and former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain for two vacant seats on the Fed Board of Governors have been framed by critics as a means for him to put pressure on the central bank to ease policy and help him politically.

Maloney took up this theme in her letter, saying that Moore has a track record of changing his policy recommendations based on his support for the president and his party.

"Letting someone with Mr. Moore’s track record take part in monetary policy decisions would threaten this independence and credibility of the Federal Reserve in its pursuit of stable prices and full employment," she wrote bit.ly/2Z3MHlI.

Members of the Fed’s Board are permanent voters on the U.S. central bank’s policy-setting committee, along with the head of the New York Fed. The presidents of the 11 other regional Federal Reserve banks serve as voting members on a rotating basis.

Moore would not be the first economist without a doctoral degree at the Fed, whose current chair, Jerome Powell, is a lawyer with no academic background in economics. But Moore’s views on monetary policy, including his support for a rate cut, distinguish him from every other current Fed policymaker.

In a radio interview on Monday, Moore said, “I want to be able to accommodate these growth policies that Trump has put in place that have created the best economy in the world, probably.”

Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Leslie Adler

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