President Donald Trump's latest nominees to the Federal Reserve, conservative economic strategist Stephen Moore and former pizza-executive-turned-Tea-Party-activist Herman Cain, are broadly panned as unqualified to oversee monetary policy. Neither have PhDs in economics, and both believe completely discredited ideas about monetary policy.
But as Brookings Institution economist David Wessel told The Atlantic, Trump's nominations of Cain and Moore might not just be because he wants to put conservatives in charge of the money supply — it might be because he wants to put Trump loyalists in charge of it:
"It's like suddenly [Trump] woke up and discovered that if he wants to control the Fed, he actually has some power in putting people on the board," Wessel says. "There's some merit in having a diversity of backgrounds on the Federal Reserve Board. But the president is not looking at these people [Moore and Cain] because he thinks the Fed needs a diversity of views. He looks at these people as his delegates to the Fed."
This is a serious possibility. Trump has increasingly grown critical of Fed chairman Jerome Powell, blaming his interest rate increases for holding back the wild growth Republican fiscal and deregulatory policies ought to be bringing.
This is itself a serious breach of the presidential tradition of letting the Fed make independent, nonpartisan decisions — and signals Trump would like to breach the wall of independence and influence monetary policy himself.