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U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell takes questions during a news conference following the two-day Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) policy meeting in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RC1E639BA290
Op-Ed

Who has to leave the Federal Reserve next?

Editor's Note:

This post was previously also updated by Kadija Yilla. It is based on a November 2017 blog by Michael Ng and David Wessel.

The Federal Reserve faces substantial turnover at the top over the next year and a half. President Joe Biden has three slots on the seven-member Federal Reserve Board to fill. Two of the 12 regional Fed bank presidents will hit the mandatory retirement age early in 2023 (Chicago and Kansas City), and there are vacancies at two other banks (Boston and Dallas).

By law, the president nominates a Fed chair and the two vice chairs for four-year terms. They must be confirmed by the Senate for those positions in a vote distinct from their confirmation as a member of the Fed Board of Governors. Jerome Powell’s term as chair expires in February 2022; Biden has nominated him for a second term. The president has also nominated current Fed governor Lael Brainard to succeed Richard Clarida for a four-year term as vice chair; he resigned on January 14, 2022, two weeks before his term as a Fed governor was to expire, after controversy over trading in his personal portfolio during the pandemic. The president has yet to name a successor to Randal Quarles, whose term as vice chair for (bank) supervision ended in October 2021; he resigned as a Fed governor at the end of December 2021.  

Members of the Fed Board of Governors in Washington are chosen by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The president and Senate have no say in picking presidents of the 12 regional Fed banks, however; they’re chosen by their private sector boards of directors, subject to the approval of the Fed Board of Governors in Washington.

Presidents of the regional Fed banks can serve until they’re 65—unless appointed after turning 55, in which case they can serve for a maximum of 10 years or until they’re 75, whichever comes first. For instance, Mary Daly, appointed on October 1, 2018, at the age of 55, falls into the second category, which means her term is up in October of 2028. (As Kaleb Nygaard has documented, this retirement rule dates to a 1936 decision by the Board of Governors.)

After press reports of their stock market trading raised eyebrows, Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren retired on September 30, 2021, nine months earlier than his mandatory retirement, due to health issues, and Dallas Fed President Rob Kaplan retired on October 8, 2021, four years before his mandatory retirement date, because “recent focus on my financial disclosure risks becoming a distraction to the Federal Reserve.”

Name Must Leave By Bank Age Now Age Appointed
Evans January 2023 Chicago 63 49
George January 2023 Kansas City 63 53
Mester May 2024 Cleveland 63 55
Harker June 2025 Philadelphia 63 56
Bullard February 2026 St. Louis 60 47
Barkin January 2028 Richmond 61 56
Williams June 2028 New York 59 56
Daly October 2028 San Francisco 59 55
Bostic May 2031 Atlanta 55 51
Kashkari July 2038 Minneapolis 48 42
vacant Dallas
vacant Boston

Neel Kashkari, the youngest of the current regional presidents, can serve through 2038. There is (at least) one technicality, though. Presidents of the 12 regional Fed banks are up for reappointment every five years. The Fed Board of Governors in Washington could replace any one of them, though it hasn’t ever done so.

The Fed governors in Washington serve fixed 14-year terms that are staggered; one term expires every two years. If a governor leaves before his or her term is up, their successor completes their term. Governors filling unexpired terms can still be appointed to a new one, meaning that they can serve for more than 14 years. Only two Fed governors, however, have served for more than 14 years in the past half-century of Fed history. The median term length was a little over 5 years. By law, the president cannot remove a governor except “for cause,” a legal term that means he would have to show that the person had done something wrong.

Fed Board Member Age Term Expires
vacant January 2024
Lael Brainard* 59 January 2026
Jerome Powell 68 January 2028
Christopher Waller* 62 January 2030
vacant January 2032
Michelle Bowman 50 January 2034
vacant January 2036

*Filling an unexpired term, so could be reappointed.

Two of the current members of the Fed Board of Governors were initially appointed by Donald Trump (Bowman and Waller). Powell was originally appointed to the Board by Barack Obama in 2012, was named chair by Trump, and was reappointed as chair by Biden.

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