Analysts from Washington to Wall Street say a leading contender would be Lael Brainard, a current Federal Reserve governor with years of practical experience for the job.
“There could be a tug of war between progressives and more moderate Democrats, but many people would prefer someone with both a deep background in economics and monetary policy,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial.
Brainard couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. A spokesperson for the Biden Transition team told CNN Business that they are “not making any personnel decisions pre-election.” The Fed declined to comment.
“Brainard is highly qualified,” said Mike O’Rourke, chief market strategist with JonesTrading in a report last month, noting that her experience in past administrations and the private sector may make her a better fit for the job than Warren, who has a reputation for seeking aggressive oversight of big banks and other large corporations.
A Warren selection would likely rattle investor confidence. In times of economic or financial crisis, the Treasury Secretary and the CEOs of the banking industry need a good working relationship. That would be hard to envision if Warren led Treasury,” O’Rourke said.
But Brainard may stand out from the rest of the contenders, several experts said.
“For the Wall Street allies of the Biden campaign, Brainard is ideal. As a career scholar and public official, she would presumably be less of a lightning rod for progressive critics than a Wall Street figure,” Kuttner added.
Bridging gap between monetary policy and fiscal stimulus
“Further targeted fiscal support will be needed alongside accommodative monetary policy to turn this K-shaped recovery into a broad-based and inclusive recovery,” Brainard said in this week’s speech.
“If Biden wins, Brainard is an obvious choice. She has a reputation as being someone who isn’t afraid to push boundaries but also someone that conservatives could work with,” said John Norris, chief economist with Oakworth Capital.
Norris added that Brainard could also help restore fractured economic relationships with other countries, particularly China, and he thinks she’d be less likely to advocate for trade wars.
“She is such a layup that investors would probably be disappointed if Biden didn’t name her,” Norris said. “She really is the perfect person for this position.”