The presidents of four regional Federal Reserve banks gained votes on the Fed’s main policymaking group this week for the first meeting of 2012.
One has been critical of efforts led by Chairman Ben Bernanke to provide further support for the economy. The three others are seen as more willing to back further moves to bolster the economy.
The four new voters replace four regional bank presidents who no longer have votes. That group included three members who twice opposed Bernanke’s efforts to support the economy for fear it could escalate inflation. The fourth member also dissented twice, but for the opposite reason: He wanted to go further to try to boost the economy.
Here are snapshots of the four new voting members who will help shape Fed policy this year:
JEFFREY M. LACKER
President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Lacker is one of the Fed’s most vocal “hawks.” (Hawks tend to worry that super-low interest rates can ignite inflation.) Lacker is expected to continue that role if Bernanke pushes further Fed efforts to support the economy, such as another round of bond purchases.
Speaking to reporters last month, Lacker said he was “hard-pressed to see the rationale for any further monetary stimulus” by the Fed to bolster the economy. Lacker, 56, cast the first dissenting vote after Bernanke took over as Fed chairman in 2006. He is considered the most likely to dissent this year.
He has been president of the Richmond Fed since August 2004, after working as an economist at the Fed since 1989.
Pianalto, 57, became head of the Cleveland Fed on Feb. 1, 2003. She has worked at the regional bank since 1983, starting as an economist in the bank’s research department.
In her nine years on the Fed’s policy-setting panel, Pianalto has been a reliable centrist who tends to support the chairman. She has never dissented from a decision by the Fed’s policy-setting panel.
In a speech this month, Pianalto said that despite efforts the Fed has taken so far, “the recovery from the recent financial and economic crisis has been frustratingly slow.” She pledged that during Fed policy deliberations this year, “I will continue to weigh the costs and benefits of future policy actions.”
Lockhart, 64, has been president of the Atlanta Fed bank since March 2007. Before joining the Fed, he served as an executive of Citicorp, now Citigroup, from 1971 to 1988.
Lockhart is generally expected to support Bernanke’s policies.
In a speech this month, Lockhart said he remained concerned about the pace of income growth. He said he wonders whether a recent rebound in consumer spending can be maintained “without a pickup in income growth.”
Lockhart told reporters he was “open-minded” about the need for further Fed stimulus. He said a disappointingly slow decline in the unemployment rate justified keeping open the Fed’s options for doing more.
John C. Williams took office as head of the San Francisco Fed in March. Williams had been director of research at the bank, which he joined in 2002.
He has supported efforts to provide more information to the public and investors about the Fed’s deliberations. Five years ago, he jointly published a paper called “Revealing the Secrets of the Temple.”
Williams, 49, is expected to lean toward a more dovish stance, similar to the positions of his predecessor, Janet Yellen, now vice chairman of the Fed board. (“Doves” tend to worry more about high unemployment than about inflation.)
In a speech this month, Williams indicated he would support further Fed moves to bolster growth if the economy doesn’t improve more than he expects this year.