Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday that Janet Yellen has not said yet whether she plans to remain on the Federal Reserve board when her term as chair ends in February, but the administration is moving ahead with filling other vacancies.
There are three vacancies on the seven-member Fed board and there could be a fourth if Yellen decides to leave. Her term as a board member does not end until 2024.
In an interview on Bloomberg TV, Mnuchin said he had breakfast with Yellen on Wednesday from which he came away with the impression that she had not made a decision about her future at the Fed.
Last week, President Donald Trump announced he would nominate Fed board member Jerome Powell as the next Fed chairman, bypassing Yellen.
If Yellen did stay on the board, she would be only the second former chair to do so. Marriner Eccles, whose name is on the Fed’s headquarters in Washington, remained on the board for three years after he was not nominated for another term as chair by Harry Truman in 1948.
Mnuchin said the goal was to fill the vacancies quickly, but the administration did not necessarily see a need to pick someone with a PhD in economics for the vice chair position even though Powell will be the first person to lead the Fed without a degree in economics in nearly four decades.
“I think our priority is that we are going to fill these positions quickly. Our focus was on the chair,” Mnuchin said. “Now that we have resolved that issue, we are already looking at people for these positions. So I am comfortable we will have the jobs filled.”
Before Trump’s announcement last week, Yellen had declined to say what she might do if she was not tapped for a second term.
“I have said that I intend to serve out my term as chair, and that I’m really not going to comment on my intentions beyond that,” she told reporters in September.