It’s that time of year for the Federal Reserve Board. No, not forecasting what it will do in 2020, but The Game of Chairs, I call it.

For the uninitiated, the Fed’s interest rate policy is set by the Federal Open Market Committee, FOMC, is composed of 12 members--the seven members of the Board of Governors and five of the 12 Reserve Bank presidents around the country. The Board chair, Jerome Powell currently, serves as the FOMC chair; the NY Fed president is a permanent member of the Committee and is vice chairman of the committee.

Here’s the fund part: the presidents of those other 12 Reserve Banks fill the remaining four voting positions on the FOMC on a rotating basis. Next month, the annual FOMC rotation of members means the chiefs of the Cleveland, Philadelphia, Dallas and Minneapolis reserve banks will join the group, gaining a formal vote on monetary policy decisions, while the Boston, Chicago, Kansas City and St. Louis Fed bank leaders “will be voted off the FOMC island,” so to speak. They can participate at meetings but no longer vote.

I’m being facetious, but there are times when such changes can be important. The FOMC is an independent body and all members vote their conscience, but in practice the Fed chair is the first among equals, and the FOMC...

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