Multiple sources told the outlet the longtime investment banker joined Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler on the list of potential candidates to take over the challenging role of managing the federal government’s finances.
Bank of America executive Lawrence DiRita, who manages the company’s public affairs, declined comment but would not deny the speculation regarding Moynihan, according to Fox Business. A spokesman for the White House also declined comment, while White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Friday that the report “seems to be pure speculation.”
Moynihan previously worked as chief executive of Merrill Lynch before the company was sold to Bank of America in 2008; he became the second-largest American financial institution’s chief executive two years later. Fox Business notes that Moynihan has been attending state dinners and accepting media interviews in which he advances the optimistic economic outlook maintained by the White House.
An earlier report from Axios found that Yellen and other officials could resign after the midterm elections. One concern that might have prevented Yellen’s exit was finding a replacement that could be approved by the Senate; however, a lackluster Republican performance has guaranteed that the upper chamber will remain in Democratic hands. The report added that Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council, and Cecilia Rouse, the chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, could depart early next year.
Yellen, who formerly led the Federal Reserve, has so far denied the rumor of her upcoming exit from the administration. “There is no truth to that,” she recently told MSNBC anchor and Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart.
The 76-year-old economist has been the subject of criticism over the past two years for downplaying the impact that record inflation would have on the economy. By the end of last year, Yellen began pivoting away from the term “transitory” as a reliable descriptor for rising price levels.
“I am ready to retire the word transitory,” she said. “I can agree that that hasn’t been an apt description of what we are dealing with.”
Earlier this year, she told CNN host Wolf Blitzer that she was “wrong then about the path that inflation would take,” acknowledging that “there have been unanticipated and large shocks to the economy that have boosted energy and food prices and supply bottlenecks that have affected our economy badly.”
The White House has also been criticized for arguing that the economy never entered a recession, even though the rule-of-thumb definition, two conservative quarters of negative growth, was satisfied in the first half of this year. Administration officials have claimed that only an official determination from the National Bureau of Economic Research would mean the nation was in a prolonged contraction.
In one set of particularly eyebrow-raising comments, Yellen asserted that the nation was not in a recession but rather a “period of transition in which growth is slowing.”