WASHINGTON – President Bush has decided to nominate Susan Bies, a top official with a Tennessee bank, as a member of the Federal Board of Governors, a senior White House official said Friday.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the nomination would be announced later in the day.
If confirmed by the Senate, Bies would be the only woman currently on the seven-member Fed board.
Bies is executive vice president of First Tennessee National Corp., headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., a large regional bank holding company with 200 branches in Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas.
Bies, who was in charge of risk management for First Tennessee, had been at the bank since 1980. She had worked as an economist at the Fed's regional bank in St. Louis from 1970 to 1972.
Bush will have the opportunity early in his presidency to fill five of the seven seats on the Fed board. He has already nominated Fed Vice Chairman Roger Ferguson, who was originally appointed to the board by President Clinton, to a full 14-year term.
But Bush had yet to name anyone to two other vacancies on the Fed board which have existed for the past two years. And on Monday, Fed Governor Edward W. Kelley Jr., the board's longest serving member, announced his plans to step down as soon as one of those two vacancies is filled.
In addition, Fed Governor Laurence Meyer, whose term expires early next year, has said he will not seek reappointment.
With all the changes to the board's makeup, private economists said they do not expect the nation's monetary policy to change significantly as long as Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan remains in place.
Greenspan is serving his fourth four-year term as chairman, a term that runs until June 20, 2004.
The seven-member Fed board meets eight times a year along with Fed regional bank presidents to decide whether to change interest rates.
The next meeting occurs June 26-27 and private economists are predicting the Fed will cut rates for a sixth time this year as the central bank continues trying to jump-start the sluggish economy.