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Criticism mounts of Trump pick for U.S. Federal Reserve

By Pete Schroeder and Howard Schneider

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Potential Federal Reserve board nominee Stephen Moore, picked by U.S. President Donald Trump, faced new criticism, with Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren accusing him of lacking competencies to serve in that role.

Economists and other critics have expressed concerns about Moore, a conservative economic commentator, and another Trump loyalist nomination to the Fed’s Board of Governors, serving on the traditionally nonpartisan central bank.

Warren, a Democrat who is running to challenge Trump in the 2020 election, said Moore had “a long history of making wildly inaccurate claims about economic policy that appear to serve political ends.”

“Americans should be able to trust that policymakers … have some command over basic mathematical and economic concepts and allegiance to facts,” she wrote in a letter to Moore.

Warren cited examples where Moore’s economic commentary appeared in conflict with other research or Moore’s earlier stances. She included a multiple-choice questionnaire asking if he still held prior views, including describing himself as “not an expert on monetary policy.”

Moore did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Moore, and fellow Trump nominee Herman Cain, a former restaurant chain executive, are battling for the two vacant seats on the Fed’s Board of Governors, positions that would give them a say for years on interest-rate policy and bank regulation.

Analysts say Moore has at times sounded like a “hard money” advocate. In 2015, he said that the Fed’s crisis-era polices were “cheapening our dollar … We have got to get rid of the Federal Reserve and move toward a gold standard in this country.”

The dollar in 2015 was in the middle of a six-year rise in value against a basket of foreign currencies. Moore now says he wants to cut interest rates, which would generally weaken the currency.

He has also said he changed his mind about the gold standard and advocated tying Fed policy to a commodity index, which he said former Chairman Paul Volcker used to tame inflation. Volcker did not use such a rule.

Warren sent a separate letter to Cain, a former Republican presidential candidate, also describing him as unsuitable for the post.

Cain’s potential nomination appears to be in trouble, as multiple Republican senators, whose votes he would need for confirmation, have already said they would oppose him.

Neither nomination has been formally sent to the Senate but Trump has said he will put their names forward.

(Reporting by Pete Schroeder, Howard Schneider and Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Susan Thomas)

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