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Federal Reserve Appointments and the Politics of Senate Confirmation

Ainsley, Caitlin. 2021. “Federal Reserve Appointments and the Politics of Senate Confirmation.” PublicChoice 190,  93–110.

This paper examines the politicization of Federal Reserve (Fed) appointments. In contrast to the extant appointment literature’s almost exclusive focus on ideological proximity as a predictor of Fed nominations and confirmations, I theorize that senators will be more likely to vote against confirmation when their constituents have little confidence in the Fed because it allows them to more credibly defer blame on the Fed for economic downturns. Drawing on novel estimates of state-level confidence in the Fed as well as new common space estimates of senators’ and central bankers’ monetary policy preferences, I demonstrate that when constituents do not have confidence in the Fed, senators are less likely to vote in favor of confirmation regardless of their ideological proximity to the nominee. The results have important implications for the ability to fill Fed vacancies and, in turn, the balance of power between the Fed and regional bank Presidents in the monetary policymaking process.

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