Powell, currently a Fed governor, is now the leading contender, according to PredictIt, a website that predicts political and financial events. It puts his odds of selection at 47 percent, higher than the 28 percent odds on Kevin Warsh and 9 percent on the incumbent, Janet Yellen.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is pushing for Powell and has privately recommended him to President Donald Trump, Politico reported on Wednesday. Powell is seen as a safe pick and slightly more hawkish than Yellen, meaning he could move more quickly to raise rates from their historic lows.
Warsh is viewed as even more hawkish and has publicly criticized the Fed's easy money policy after the financial crisis. He was the leading contender in late September. One dilemma in choosing the next Fed chair for Trump is that he likes low interest rates but the candidates who are more likely to push his deregulation agenda are also the ones who would move faster to normalize rates.
Powell is a former private equity executive who served in the Treasury Department under the George H.W. Bush administration. He joined the Fed's board of governors in 2012 and was reappointed in 2014 for a term ending in 2028.