Cain withdraws candidacy to Fed board


Herman Cain

Former Federal Reserve Board nominee Herman Cain

Herman Cain has asked US president Donald Trump not to nominate him to the Federal Reserve Board, Trump revealed in a tweet on April 22.

Ever since his nomination was first mooted earlier this month, Cain faced fierce opposition from both Democratic and Republican senators owing to his partisan views on economic policies and perceptions that he was underqualified. Last week, four Republican senators said they would vote against his nomination, which made his confirmation appear unlikely.

In a letter published by the conservative website The Western Journal, Cain argues the appointment would have prevented him from continuing with his business activities in exchange for limited policy influence. 

“I was convinced I could make a positive difference advocating for better growth and monetary policies. As recently as last Monday I had told President Trump I was all in,” says Cain in the column. “But the cost of doing this started weighing on me over the weekend. I also started wondering if I’d be giving up too much influence to get a little bit of policy impact.”

Cain hosts a radio show and contributes to the conservative TV channel Fox Business, as well as delivering paid speeches. In order to preserve the Fed’s independence, would-be governors need to disentangle themselves from private business activities during their time in office.

“I would have to let go of most of my business interests,” writes Cain. “I could not serve on any boards. I could not do any paid speeches. I could not advocate on behalf of capitalism, host my radio show or make appearances on Fox Business.”

Cain served as chairman of the Kansas City Fed’s Omaha Branch from 1989 to 1991. He was also deputy chairman of the Kansas City Fed from 1992 to 1994, and chairman from 1994 to 1996.

Last week, Republican senators Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah and Cory Gardner of Colorado said they would oppose Cain’s confirmation. “I would prefer not to have to vote on him,” Cramer reportedly told NBC News. “We could find somebody that would go through the process much easier than Herman Cain.”

“I feel that we can’t turn the Federal Reserve into a more partisan entity,” Romney told NBC News. “That would be the wrong course.”

Cain is not the only one of Trump’s candidates to the Fed board to face opposition. On March 22, the president nominated Stephen Moore to another vacant governor position at the central bank. But Fed observers say Moore’s radical economic views and lack of academic expertise make him unfit to serve on the board of governors.

“There’s no bigger swamp in Washington than the Federal Reserve Board. It’s filled with hundreds of economists who are worthless, who have the wrong model in their mind,” Moore said in February 2019. “They should all be fired and they should be replaced by good economists.”

Another Trump nominee, Marvin Goodfriend, has failed to secure the support of the Senate. He was nominated in November 2017, and has much stronger academic credentials than Moore or Cain, but his rejection of crisis-era policies such as the Fed’s bond-buying programme was seen as controversial by some lawmakers and Fed officials.

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