By MARTIN CRUTSINGERWASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ The presidents of four regional Federal Reserve banks gained votes on the Fed's main policymaking group this week for the first meeting of 2013. One of the new voters has said she's uneasy about the Fed's aggressive policies to support economic growth. Two others have been among the most outspoken supporters of the Fed's moves to attack high unemployment. The fourth new voting member has been middle-of-the road in his views. The four replace four other regional bank presidents who, as part of the central bank's normal voting rotation, no longer have votes on the policy committee. One of them, Jeffrey Lacker, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, had cast the lone dissenting vote at all eight meetings in 2012. Of the 12 regional bank presidents, the head of the New York Federal Reserve bank always has a vote on the interest-rate setting Federal Open Market Committee. So do the seven Fed board members in Washington. The four other votes rotate each year among the 11 other bank presidents. Here are snapshots of the four new voting members who will help shape Fed policy this year: ___ ESTHER GEORGE George became president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in October 2011, succeeding Thomas Hoenig, one of the leading "hawks." (Hawks tend to worry that record-low interest rates and continued Fed purchases of Treasurys could ignite inflation.) Hoenig dissented at every meeting in his last voting year, 2010. George, who started at the Kansas City Fed as a bank examiner in 1982, rose to become the No. 2 official at the bank before being tapped to succeed Hoenig. She holds a master's of business administration from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In a speech this month, George said she was "uneasy" with current Fed policies and said the central bank "must not ignore the possibility" that a long period of unusually low interest rates could contribute to asset bubbles that would harm the financial system.
This will be George's first year with a vote on the Fed's policy committee. Her speech has raised the possibility that she will dissent from the easy-money policies being driven by Chairman Ben Bernanke and the majority of Fed officials.___ CHARLES L. EVANS Evans became president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in September 2007. He joined the Fed's Chicago branch in 1991 and served as director of research before taking the top job. He holds a doctorate in economics from Carnegie-Mellon University and taught at the University of the Chicago, the University of Michigan and the University of South Carolina before taking the Fed job. Evans is a leading dove. (Doves tend to worry more about high unemployment than about inflation.) Evans successfully campaigned to get the Fed to adopt in December economic targets rather than calendar dates for how long interest rates will likely remain at ultra-low levels. At the December meeting, the Fed said it planned to keep a key short-term rate at a record low near zero until unemployment fell below 6.5 percent as long as inflation projections remained mild. The unemployment rate was 7.8 percent in December. ___ ERIC S. ROSENGREN Rosengren took office as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in July 2007. He joined the Boston Fed as an economist in the research department in 1989 and became a vice president in the research department in 1991. He received a doctorate in economics from the University of Wisconsin. Rosengren is considered a dove on interest-rate policies. He was a leading voice in urging the central bank to adopt a second round of bond purchases to drive interest rates lower in 2010. That process is known as quantitative easing, or QE. He's also spoken in favor of the third round of QE that the Fed launched in September. In a speech this month, Rosengren said the bond purchases were benefiting the economy. As an example, he pointed to higher sales of homes and cars.
___JAMES BULLARD Bullard became president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in April 2008. He joined the bank in 1990 as an economist in the research division after receiving a doctorate in economics that year from Indiana University. He served as a vice president and deputy director of research at the St. Louis Fed before taking the top job. Bullard's views are considered moderate. He was an early supporter of the second round of bond purchases the Fed announced in November 2010. But he initially opposed Evans' idea of linking Fed rate increases to a specific improvement in the unemployment rate. In comments this month, Bullard suggested that if the unemployment rate fell to 7.1 percent by year's end, the Fed could consider ending its $85 billion-a-month bond buying program. But if unemployment doesn't improve, Bullard said the bond purchases would probably continue into 2014.