Economist Austan Goolsbee named next Chicago Fed president

The economist Austan Goolsbee will take over as president of the Chicago Federal Reserve early next year as the central bank weighs critical policy moves ahead, according to an announcement Thursday.

Goolsbee will take the seat officially on Jan. 9, 2023 and finish a term begun by the retiring Charles Evans that expires Feb. 28, 2026.

Currently a professor at the prestigious University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, Goolsbee previously served as chairman of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors from 2010-11 under then-President Barack Obama.

“Austan is an exceptional choice to be the next president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He is a highly accomplished economist with extensive policy experience and a strong commitment to public service,” Helene Gayle, chair of the Chicago Fed’s board of directors, said in a statement.

Goolsbee comes to the Chicago Fed at a sensitive time for the central bank.

As part of an effort to fight the highest levels of inflation in more than 40 years, the Fed has raised its benchmark interest rate half a dozen times this year and is expected to continue the increases at least into the early part of 2023. Some economists worry the Fed is over-tightening and could cause a recession.

In recent remarks to CNBC, Goolsbee indicated that the slowdown indicated in some inflation data points lately likely won’t be enough to get the Fed to back off much from its policy tightening.

“If you’re raising 75 basis points a meeting, we’re going to have to figure out what the timing is of the pivot,” he said following October’s consumer price index report showing that inflation rose less than expected on a monthly basis. “Unless and until you get that core monthly inflation down in a comfortable range, I think the voices that are saying ‘slow down, cool off’ are still going to be a little muted.”

Goolsbee will not be a voting member of the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee in 2023. However, he will still get to voice his opinion on policy and will next be a voter in 2025.

A Chicago Fed release announcing the appointment said the new district president is “a leading empirical economist” whose research spans a wide variety of topics. The release also notes that Goolsbee has been an advocate for alternate measures of inflation.

Goolsbee called the Chicago Fed “one of the crown jewels” of the central bank system.

“I am both humbled and excited to serve the public in this role,” he said in a statement. “These have been challenging, unprecedented times for the economy. The Bank has an important role to play in helping the District get through them and to thrive going forward.”

The Fed has see considerable turnover lately both with governors and the regional presidents who rotate in and out as voting members.

Newer members include regional presidents Lorie Logan of Dallas and Susan Collins of Boston, as well as governors Philip Jefferson and Lisa Cook.

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