Jerome Powell, President Trump's pick to head the Federal Reserve, is confirming his strong commitment to the independence of the Fed and is assuring lawmakers that he has had no talks with the administration that would cause concern. In confirmation testimony to the Senate Banking Committee, Powell also said it will likely take about three to four years for the Fed to rolloff its balance sheet from $4.5 trillion to the $2.5 to $3.5 trillion range. This is the first hard guidance on the length of the unwinding and its degree.
Powell is also confirming expectations for action at the mid-December FOMC, saying the case for a hike is coming together. Powell noted that maximum employment is hard to pin point but that the current rate of 4.1 percent is around the natural rate (the maximum rate that would not cause inflation). On regulation, Powell is in line with the administration, saying post-crisis oversight has been "tough enough" and expressing his support of Randal Quarles, a strong opponent of greater regulation who was appointed by Trump earlier this year to the FOMC.