Obama To Nominate 2 Candidates For Fed Vacancies

Harvard professor Jeremy Stein is a Democrat who served as a senior adviser to Obama's Treasury Department. Republican Jerome Powell served at Treasury under the first President Bush.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

President Obama has announced nominees to fill the two vacant positions on the seven-seat Federal Reserve Board of Governors. One is Harvard Professor Jeremy Stein, a Democrat who was previously a senior advisor to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. The other is a Republican, Jerome Powell, who served at Treasury under the first President Bush.

NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: So other than their nominations, what do these two men have in common?

ALAN BLINDER: A Princeton education and high IQs. Other than that, I'm not sure what they have in common.

NOGUCHI: Alan Blinder is former vice chair of the Fed's Board of Governors and himself a professor at Princeton. He says he is a fan of both.

BLINDER: Their backgrounds are quite different and beautifully complementary. That's, you know, sometimes you want different, rather than the same. Stein is an outstanding academic finance economist. Powell is a seasoned financial executive with government experience.

NOGUCHI: And, of course, they belong to different parties. Blinder says he believes that is also by design, to try to win approval from Congress.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Peter Diamond was nominated twice by the Obama administration, but Senate Republicans blocked a vote on his confirmation. Diamond eventually withdrew. Blinder says party affiliation should not matter. With the possibility of financial crisis looming in Europe and a stagnant economy at home, he says the Fed desperately needs additional brain power and man power.

Yuki Noguchi, NPR News, Washington.

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