(Bloomberg) -- Investors may need to hunker down for a slump in U.S. stocks if President Joe Biden opts for a surprise choice and doesn’t renominate Jerome Powell as Federal Reserve chair.
Nearly 90% of the economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect Biden to keep Powell in the job, an overwhelming number that’s risen from June, while Fed Governor Lael Brainard, a Democrat, is seen as the likely choice by 9% of economists surveyed. Former Vice Chair Roger Ferguson was viewed as the pick by 2%. The poll of 52 economists was conducted Sept. 10-15.
Market jitters are likely to follow a move that surprises investors. Nearly two-thirds of the economists predicted a near-term rally in stocks if Powell is renominated, while more than half predicted stocks would decline in the near term if Brainard were the pick.
The economists were about evenly split on whether bond yields would rise or fall in response to news of the selection of either. About a third of the economists declined to predict market reactions because there’s too much uncertainty surrounding how the events would play out.
Powell has deflected all questions on whether he’d serve four more years if asked, leaving the impression intact that he’d like to stay at the helm. Biden is expected to name a replacement for at least that chair’s seat this fall. Biden also has a chance to fill the positions of vice chair, vice chair for supervision and a vacant board seat.
In their views of monetary policy, both are seen by investors as dovish, supportive of keeping interest rates low to support full employment and strong growth. Some progressive groups have come out for Brainard as someone more likely to take on Wall Street and climate risks than Powell. Brainard, though, would face a much more contentious fight to get her nomination confirmed by the Senate.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
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