Overnight Finance

On The Money — Biden sticks with Powell despite pressure

Happy Monday and welcome to On The Money, your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

Today's Big Deal: President Biden has finally made his choices for the top two spots on the Fed board. We'll also look at how women are taking control of key congressional spending posts for the first time ever, and a decisive Black Friday.

But first, a throwback to when Creed ruled the world (or at least this NFL halftime show).

For The Hill, we're Sylvan Lane, Naomi Jagoda and Aris Folley. Reach us at slane@thehill.com or @SylvanLane, njagoda@thehill.com or @NJagoda and, afolley@thehill.com or @ArisFolley.

Let's get to it.

Powell, Brainard tapped to lead Fed 

President Biden said Monday he renominated Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell to preserve the "stability and independence" of the central bank as the U.S. faces challenges on the road to a full economic recovery.

  • Biden tapped Powell, a Republican, for another four-year team leading the Fed board of governors despite pressure from the left to replace him. 
  • The president also selected Fed Governor Lael Brainard, the only Democrat on the Fed board and the favorite among liberals to replace Powell, to serve as vice chair.

"I believe having Fed leadership with broad bipartisan support is important, especially now in such a politically divided nation," said Biden, flanked by Powell and Brainard, in Monday remarks at the White House. Sylvan has more here.

The background: Biden had spent weeks quietly mulling whether to renominate Powell or replace him with Brainard, sharing little insight into the parameters for his pick. Until his announcement Monday, the president said little beyond stressing the importance of Fed independence, drawing a sharp distinction between himself and his predecessor.

"In times like these we need steady, tested, principled leadership at the Fed. We need people with sound judgment and proven courage to preserve the independence of the Fed. And we need people of character and integrity, who can be trusted to keep their focus on the right long-term goals for our country. I'm confident Jay and Lael are those people," Biden continued.

I've got more here.

What comes next: Both Powell and Brainard will appear at some point before the Senate Banking Committee for a confirmation hearing, and then eventually face a vote in the full Senate. 

  • Powell, who won 84 votes for confirmation in 2018, is as close to a lock as you can get. He's already been backed by lawmakers across the political spectrum, including Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and ranking Republican Pat Toomey (Pa.). The two barely agree on anything else. 
  • Brainard is also likely to be confirmed, needing only 50 votes to make it out of the Senate. While she is not expected to get nearly as much bipartisan support as Powell will, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine.) confirmed to The Hill that she will vote for both nominees.

Biden also has three more seats on the Fed board to fill and must designate one of the members as the vice chair of supervision. While the president emphasized continuity today, Biden said his new picks will "bring new perspectives and new voices" and diversity, three key issues for progressives unhappy with the Powell pick.



Warren to oppose Powell for new Fed term, citing regulation 'failures

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said Monday she will vote against President Biden's nomination of Jerome Powell to serve another four years as chairman of the Federal Reserve, citing his "failures on regulation, climate and ethics."

Warren had previously called Powell "a dangerous man to head up the Fed" and announced in September that she would oppose his nomination.

  • Warren said she would support Biden's nomination of Lael Brainard as Vice Chair.
  • Warren's opposition to Powell means that Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) will have to round up Republican votes for his nomination, which will be an easy task since Powell was nominated to be chairman by former President Trump in 2017.
  • Two other progressives, Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), signaled last week that they would also oppose Powell.

Read more from The Hill's Alexander Bolton here.



Women could lead a powerful Senate spending panel for first time ever

One of the Senate's most powerful spending committees could see women at the helm for the first time in the next session of Congress following a string of announced retirements in the upper chamber.

Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, are prepared to retire at the end of their terms next year, and two senior members of the upper chamber's largest committee are in line to succeed the pair.

Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), whose shared experience serving on the committee and in the upper chamber span decades, are poised to take their male colleagues' places. It would be the first time in the committee's 154-year history that women sat in its two top seats, a committee aide confirmed to The Hill.

Read more here.


Holiday season poses major test for Biden economy

Black Friday this week will kick off a crucial stretch for President Biden as the U.S. economy struggles to shake off the limits of the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 stifled the regular economic boost of the holiday season in 2020, but retailers and manufacturers are bracing for a surge of shopping and travel after three straight months of growing pressure on supply lines.

Retail sales minus automobiles and gasoline during Thanksgiving week are expected to rise 10 percent from last year and 12.2 percent from 2019, according to data from Mastercard. The company projects a 56 percent increase in apparel sales, a 40.2 percent jump in department stores sales, roughly 30 percent more spending on electronics and a nearly 40 percent increase in jewelry sales from the same time last year.

The political stakes are high for Biden, with Republicans more than ready to accuse him of ruining the holidays.

Read more here.


Good to Know 


Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) is calling on President Biden to appoint a supply chain czar to help coordinate a federal response to the bottlenecks that are causing a spike in prices nationwide.

Here's what else have our eye on:

  • The Biden administration's rule increasing the minimum wage for federal contractors to $15 an hour will take effect Jan. 30 the Labor Department announced Monday. 
  • Americans' economic worries rose to a pandemic high this month, according to Gallup, but the level of concern still remains relatively low compared to historical trends.
  • Forty-three percent of registered voters in a new poll conducted by Politico and Morning Consult said they believe President Biden's expansive social spending and climate package will make inflation worse.


That's it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill's Finance page for the latest news and coverage. We'll see you tomorrow.