Will Powell or Taylor chair the Fed next? It doesn't really matter, says Barclays

  • Markets are considering the implications of having the Federal Reserve chaired by Jerome Powell or John Taylor
  • The selection probably "won't make that big of a difference" for markets, Barclays' Christian Keller said
  • Irrespective of attitude differences, the two Fed chair candidates are likely to converge on policy because of the existing economic realities, he said

As markets consider the implications of having the Federal Reserve chaired by Jerome "Jay" Powell or John Taylor — the two men widely considered to be top candidates for the role — one Barclays analyst has a message for investors.

The selection probably "won't make that big of a difference" for markets, Christian Keller, managing director and head of economics research at Barclays, told CNBC.

"Whoever it will be, they will still have to deal with the macro situation that they encouter," he said, adding that those key indicators include strong growth, high uncertainty about upcoming fiscal policies, and very low inflation.

President Donald Trump's announcement of his choice for the next Federal Reserve chair, due later Thursday, is widely expected to move markets.

And a continuity-versus-change discussion has emerged in the days leading up to the big reveal.

Many see Powell as the frontrunner with Taylor just behind. Powell, a current Fed governor, is widely perceived to continue with current chair Janet Yellen's gradual approach to unwinding the central bank's balance sheet. But newcomer John Taylor, a Stanford economist, could stand for more hawkish policies, many say.

Irrespective of attitude differences, the two Fed chair candidates are likely to converge on policy because of the existing economic realities, according to Keller.

"None of them probably would want to have too fast interest rate increases that would lead to a dollar surge, which will backfire on growth and on inflation," he said.

There would, however, be some differences between having the two men as Fed chairs.

Taylor invented the "Taylor rule" in 1992, a strategic model that guides the way central banks' interest rates should shift according to economic conditions.

If Taylor joins the Fed committee, that would mean a greater emphasis on "taking a lot of the discretion out and being more formal" with the decision-making process, such as by defining variables and goals, said David Fernandez, Asia Pacific chief economist at Barclays.

Bringing that framework to the table in the current environment would imply continuing with the Fed's ongoing balance sheet unwind, Fernandez said, but added that normalization could be "reinforced" if someone like Taylor were on the Fed committee.