HONOLULU, Hawaii - A vacationing President Barack Obama has nominated a Harvard University professor and a former Treasury official under President George H.W. Bush — a Democrat and a Republican — to the Federal Reserve Board.
In a statement from Hawaii where he is vacationing with his family, Obama praised Jeremy Stein and Jerome Powell for agreeing to serve his administration at a critical moment for the U.S. economy.
"Their distinguished backgrounds and experience coupled with their impressive knowledge of economic and monetary policy make them tremendously qualified to serve in these important roles," Obama said.
Stein is an economics professor at Harvard, where he teaches courses in finance. His research focuses on the behaviour of stock prices, corporate investment and financial regulation. He previously served in the Obama administration as a senior adviser to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
Powell is a visiting scholar at the Washington-based Bipartisan Policy Center, where he focused on federal and state fiscal issue. He served as undersecretary of finance at the Treasury Department in the first Bush administration, where he was responsible for policy on financial institutions and the treasury debt market.
In nominating both a Democrat and Republican to the seven-member Fed board, Obama could be trying to head off a confirmation fight in the Senate. The White House has previously accused Republicans of purposely blocking qualified Obama nominees.
That includes Nobel Prize-winning economist Peter Diamond, who was nominated for the Fed board by Obama in 2009, then re-nominated for the post in 2010.
Senate Republicans blocked a floor vote on Diamond's confirmation and questioned his practical experience and research. Diamond is considered an authority on Social Security, pensions and taxation. Diamond ultimately withdrew his nomination, citing frustration with the process and contending that Republicans failed to recognize the value of experience analyzing what causes unemployment.
The Fed Board of Governors' responsibilities include analyzing domestic and international financial and economic developments. The board also supervises and regulates the operations of the Federal Reserve Banks, and administers the nation's consumer credit protection laws.