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White House said to consider Fed insider Williams for vice-chair

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Long-time Federal Reserve insider John Williams has been interviewed by the White House for the post of vice-chairman of the US central bank, according to a person familiar with the discussions, though he was not viewed as being on the short-list for the job.

[HONG KONG] Long-time Federal Reserve insider John Williams has been interviewed by the White House for the post of vice-chairman of the US central bank, according to a person familiar with the discussions, though he was not viewed as being on the short-list for the job.

Mr Williams, 55, is currently president of the Fed's regional bank in San Francisco, where he took the reins in 2011 from Janet Yellen, who went on to become Fed Chair. He began his Fed career in 1994 in Washington and has also lectured at Stanford University. Mr Williams served as a senior economist in President Bill Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers.

The selection of the Fed vice chair, which is subject to Senate confirmation, will be part of a wider reshaping of the central bank's leadership. President Donald Trump nominated Fed Governor Jerome Powell to replace Ms Yellen when her term as chair expires in early February, and picked Randal Quarles, who worked in the Treasury of President George W Bush, to be Fed vice chair for supervision.

The Wall Street Journal earlier reported that Mr Williams was under consideration. A spokesman for the San Francisco Fed declined to comment. The White House is said to be considering other candidates for the number two Fed slot, which has been vacant since Stanley Fischer stepped down in October. The Journal has previously reported that the administration was considering Fed Governor Lawrence Lindsey, head of an economic advisory firm, and Mohamed El-Erian, a columnist for Bloomberg View and chief economic adviser at Allianz SE, Pimco's parent company. Both have declined to comment.

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Mr Williams was Ms Yellen's research director when she led the San Francisco Fed and has generally lined up with the Fed leadership on policy. Pairing him alongside Mr Powell would favour continuity at the central bank: Mr Williams backs raising interest rates three times this year, which matches the median estimate of his colleagues published in December.

Mr Williams received his PhD from Stanford University in 1994, and co-authored with economist and then-professor John Taylor, who was himself considered by Mr Trump for the Fed chairmanship.

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