The Next Fed Chairman: Is Conventional Wisdom Wrong?

Michael Mandel

As the game of guessing the next Fed Chairman goes into full gear, I heartily recommend taking a look at Rich Miller's terrific story in the latest issue of BusinessWeek (Conflict of interest alert: I edited the story, so of course I think it's terrific. But it is).

Rich argues that:

...the best alternative is for the next Fed chief to have a deep knowledge of the international economy and the diplomatic skills to bring his fellow central bankers to the table in a crisis. That means the list of potential replacements for Greenspan should be broadened to include such international experts as Michael Mussa, former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund; Manuel H. Johnson, former vice-chairman of the Fed and now an international consultant; and even James A. Baker III, former Secretary of the Treasury and State Depts.

As Rich notes, Baker may be too old. But for those of you who think that the next Fed chief is going to have to come from the usual short list (Bernanke, Feldstein, Hubbard, etc), it's worth noting that Bush completely flubbergasted the experts in his Supreme Court picks.* In fact, as late as the morning of July 19, the day that John Roberts was nominated for the Court, the consensus was that Bush was going to pick Edith Clements. Roberts appeared on the long list of potential nominees (13 in the Washington Post on July 1), but was not really viewed as the most likely choice. And of course Harriet Miers was not on anybody's short list.

*No copy editors on this blog, so I can make up any word I want.

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