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Could Trump's Next Fed Chair Be A "Goldbug?"

Judy Shelton is an American economic advisor to President Donald Trump. She is known for her advocacy for a return to the gold standard and for her criticisms of the Federal Reserve.

The Mises Institute asks Could Trump's Next Fed Chair Be A "Goldbug?"

This week, Donald Trump formally nominated Judy Shelton and Christopher Waller for vacant governorships on the Federal Reserve. Waller, the Vice President of the Richmond Fed, is widely viewed as a standard Fed nominee with the reputation of being a "dove" who has criticized recent interest rate hikes. It is Judy Shelton who is particularly interesting.

A former campaign adviser for Trump, Shelton has been a vocal Fed critic who has praised the gold standard in the past. While she has recently advocated for lower interest rates, she has also been a critic of the Fed's policy of paying interest on excess reserves that has become a key policy tool since 2008. Shelton's nomination is also interesting due to her background standing in stark contrast to most of her colleagues.

The bad news is that she leans heavily toward supply-side economics, which is deeply flawed on monetary policy. Like most supply-siders, the position she advocates may be summed up in the motto, “I favor sound money—and plenty of it.”

Still, though by no means an Austrian, Shelton's voice on the Fed would create some much needed ideological diversity to the central bank.

Shelton Slams Bank’s ‘Soviet’ Power Over Markets

Please consider Shelton Slams Bank’s ‘Soviet’ Power Over Markets

How can a dozen, slightly less than a dozen, people meeting eight times a year, decide what the cost of capital should be versus some kind of organically, market supply determined rate? The Fed is not omniscient. They don’t know what the right rate should be. How could anyone?” said Shelton.

That paragraph is all you need to read to understand Shelton is an exceptionally good nomination and far more competent than anyone on the Fed.

Obstacles to Confirmation

She is an excellent candidate. Unfortunately, Shelton Faces Obstacles to Confirmation.

One of the obstacles is there cannot be two people from the same district. Fed Governor Lael Brainard is from the same Richmond region.

I suspect Trump will easily find a way around the region obstacle. The second and far more important obstacle is the Senate may not confirm a gold advocate.

Cowen analyst Jaret Steinberg said there are enough flash points to keep her from being seated. “Shelton would be a perfect fit as she would be a Trump loyalist who won Senate confirmation,” Steinberg said in a note. “We suspect there are enough Republicans who question her views on the gold standard and on excess reserves to put her confirmation in real doubt. To us, the Senate is unlikely to reject her nomination. The most likely outcome is that it just never votes to confirm her.”

In contrast, Greg Valliere, chief global strategist at ABF and a veteran authority on Washington’s impact on Wall Street opined, “Her views are a little exotic, but I think she’s got a pretty good chance of making it.”

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Mainstream Resistance

Trump nominated Shelton last year, but nominations expire at the end of the year. So this is the second time Trump tried to appoint Shelton.

Last August, when Shelton's name first came up, Austrian economist Robert Murphy noted The Econ Establishment Teams Up To Denounce Judy Shelton.

Ever since President Trump nominated Judy Shelton to the Federal Reserve Board, the economics establishment has been letting Americans know just how crazy she (allegedly) is. And to illustrate that the establishment is bipartisan, the condemnation of Shelton has come from both the left and the right. For example, an American Enterprise Institute fellow has an article in The Hill warning of “Trump’s bizarre Federal Reserve nomination,” while National Review’s resident monetary wonk, Ramesh Ponnuru, wrote in Bloomberg that Shelton not only has a history of pushing very bad policies, but now is apparently flip-flopping just to get the job. And on Twitter, an econ-watcher has a long thread detailing all of the self-evidently nutjob positions Shelton has advanced over the years. Why, she’s not just for the gold standard, but she’s against FDIC! And she thinks the Fed’s 2% (price) inflation target erodes your property rights. Can you imagine?!

Shelton has long favored some form of commodity backing of the dollar, including praise for the historical gold standard. (In his column offering qualified praise for Shelton, Joe Salerno pointed out that in her writings, Shelton has unfortunately failed to distinguish the true classical gold standard from the much more dubious Bretton Woods framework.)

Diversity at the Fed Needed

On January 3, I commented Allegedly, There is a Gender Gap in Economics

Instead of more women or blacks on the Fed, I suggest we try actual diversity of economic opinion and not gender for gender's sake.

What's most needed on the Fed is an Austrian economist who proposes dissolving it. That would be diversity.

Instead, expect more group think nonsense about race and the Phillips Curve.

Good Ole Boy Network

To become a Fed president you have to think, believe, and act like a good ole boy.

Janet Yellen is best not thought of as a woman, but rather a good ole boy.

Shelton Precisely Needed

If people really wanted diversity, they would see Shelton as an excellent choice. But diversity is nothing but lip service about gender and race.

Diversity ought to be about opinions.

Murphy provides an excellent point-by-point analysis of what Shelton has right and wrong. but the bottom line is a point I made above: "Shelton is an exceptionally good choice and far more competent than anyone on the Fed."

Mike "Mish" Shedlock