Poll Reveals Record-Low Public Confidence In Powell As Fed Chair

Mortgage News May 18, 2023

According to a recent survey, public trust in Jerome Powell’s leadership of the Federal Reserve has significantly declined. This decline in confidence brings it to a level that matches or falls below that of previous leaders, as the central bank continues its battle against inflation.

The findings of a Gallup poll published on Tuesday reveal that 36% of American adults express either a significant or moderate level of trust in the Federal Reserve chairman’s ability to make appropriate decisions or recommendations for the economy.

This figure is slightly below Janet Yellen’s 37% during her initial year as head of the Fed in 2014. However, the difference falls within the survey’s margin of error, which is plus or minus 4 percentage points. It is worth noting that this is the lowest recorded level of public confidence since Gallup began monitoring the trust in the central bank’s leader in 2001. Ben Bernanke, a former chairman, experienced his lowest point in 2012, with a confidence level of 39%.

Typically, public confidence in the Federal Reserve aligns with the overall condition of the economy. In April 2020, merely a month after the commencement of Covid-19 lockdowns, Jerome Powell garnered a 58% approval rating, marking the highest level of approval for any Fed chairman since Alan Greenspan in 2004.

However, as inflation started to escalate and the Fed responded by increasing interest rates, Powell’s approval rating experienced a significant decline.

Political dynamics also play a role in shaping perceptions of the Federal Reserve. Jerome Powell took over as the Fed chairman in 2018, succeeding Janet Yellen, during the presidency of Donald Trump. Interestingly, Powell receives the support of 60% of Democrats but only 21% of Republicans. During Trump’s presidency, Republican confidence in Powell consistently exceeded that of Democrats by an average margin of 14 percentage points.

In fact, confidence in Powell appears to be influenced by political affiliations, highlighting the similarities between the perceptions of the Fed chairman and those of political figures.

President Joe Biden’s economic confidence rating currently stands at 35%, representing the lowest level for any president since the 2008 financial crisis when George W. Bush received a 34% approval rating. As for Janet Yellen, who now serves as Biden’s Treasury secretary, her confidence rating stands at 37%, representing the lowest level for someone in that position since Jacob Lew’s 20% in 2014.

In terms of congressional confidence, approximately 38% of Americans express trust in congressional Republicans when it comes to the economy, while the figure stands at 34% for congressional Democrats.

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