There's plenty about our current historical moment that would qualify as brain-breaking to a time-traveler from the far-off of, say, 2014. Near the top of that list is the phrase “Donald Trump's Fed,” which, like death, is at once certain to happen and impossible to comprehend. Now, thanks to a surprise resignation from Stan Fischer, that reality is coming sooner than anyone could have expected:
The “personal reasons” Fischer cited remain unknown.
As Bloomberg noted, Fischer's departure leaves four of the seven seats of the Fed's Board of Governors vacant. And then there's Yellen, who's timer runs out in February. On that note, here's what she had to say about the resignation of her right-hand man:
Stan's keen insights, grounded in a lifetime of exemplary scholarship and public service, contributed invaluably to our monetary policy deliberations. He represented the Board internationally with distinction and led our efforts to foster financial stability. I'm personally grateful for his friendship and his service. We will miss his wise counsel, good humor, and dry wit.
It's still unclear whether Yellen has a shot at reappointment, but it's probably safe to say that Fischer's departure doesn't help her odds. Fischer and Yellen sang the same tune on post-crisis bank regulation (it'sgood), which kind of clashes with the sounds Trump and potential Fed chairman Gary Cohn have made in support of the vaporous and contradictory collection of thoughts they call the Twenty-First Century Glass-Steagall.
Though the resignation might be a bummer for Yellen, it's a boon for those of us who delight in speculation over which octogenarian crank or get-rich-quick schemer might happen to amble into the Oval Office at the right time and end up the object of appointment chatter. How about an Ayn Rand cosplayer for Vice Chair? Or one of Trump's kids? They've got business experience. Scaramucci kinda ran a hedge fund.
In all likelihood the vacancies will go to guys like Kevin Warsh or John Taylor. But the Trump factor leaves some room for weirdness. Trump is a “low rates guy,” something the Warshes and Taylors of the world are not. It's not inconceivable that we'll get some truly inspired, Ben-Carson-level pick heading into the nation's central bank in the next year.
It's instructive to recall that back in the innocent days of 2014, when Fischer's Senate grilling was underway, the nominee faced scrutiny for the sin of having helped run Citigroup for three years. Compare that to Trump administration appointments like Department of Education pick Julian Schmoke Jr. – whose former employer Devry University just last year paid $100 million to settle charges of bilking and misleading students – and Fischer's Citi stint looks like a charity
Might we remind you, Milken is just a pardon away.