US President Biden says he is confident Powell will focus on keeping inflation low, prices stable and creating employment opportunities.

Powell has been criticised for keeping rates too low against the record-high US inflation seen in the last three decades.
Powell has been criticised for keeping rates too low against the record-high US inflation seen in the last three decades. (Reuters)

US President Joe Biden has nominated Jerome Powell for a second term as Federal Reserve Chair, allowing him to continue his role overseeing the economy's recovery from Covid-19.

"We can't just return to where we were before the pandemic, we need to build our economy back better," Biden said in a statement on Monday, while announcing his nomination.

If confirmed by the Senate, Powell will preside over the central bank's response to the damage done by last year's record downturn while fighting off inflation that has spiked in recent months, which put pressure on Biden's administration and the Fed's easy money policies.

The president had faced calls from progressive members of his Democratic Party to replace Powell, a Republican, with a more liberal candidate like FedGovernor Lael Brainard, but the White House announced she would serve alongside Powell as vice chair.

"I'm confident that Chair Powell and Dr Brainard's focus on keeping inflation low, prices stable and delivering full employment will make our economy stronger than ever before," Biden said.

Appointed by Biden's Republican predecessor Donald Trump and taking office in 2018, Powell has led the central bank's response to the massive pandemic downturn, which saw it slash its lending rate to zero and roll out trillions of dollars in liquidity.

READ MORE: Fed slashes rates, rips open crisis tool kit to cushion coronavirus blow

Rising inflation

The bank has rolled back those measures as the economy has recovered, but inflation has also spiked, fuelling a drop in Biden's approval ratings.

However, Powell also changed policy at the Fed to keep interest rates lower for longer than normal to spur full employment, particularly for minorities and groups that are often disadvantaged. 

Powell and other central bank leaders argue the inflation wave will prove temporary and have said they do not foresee rate hikes at least until the middle of next year. 

READ MORE: US Fed forecasts no policy rate hike through 2022

Source: TRTWorld and agencies