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Behind the scenes at the Fed

Kai Ryssdal, Sean McHenry, and Maria Hollenhorst Jul 31, 2019
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The Federal Reserve building in Washington, D.C., in 2008.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Today the Federal Reserve announced its first rate cut in more than 10 years. Despite knowing what to expect today, we don’t know much about how the members of the Federal Open Market Committee make decisions.

So we called up Daniel Tarullo, who served as a member of the Federal Reserve Board for eight years and now teaches at Harvard Law School. Tarullo was in the room when former Chair Janet Yellen announced the beginning of a cycle of rate increases in 2015.

“I suspect not only the action but the allocation of votes has been known by the chairman for a week or more,” said Tarullo.

Getting those votes, Tarullo said, is a big part of Chair Jerome Powell’s job.

“The Fed chair really needs to act a bit more like the chair of an econ department than the boss of a company,” said Tarullo. “He or she has a bunch of independent-minded, smart people who need to be brought along to something resembling a consensus. And it actually takes a lot of work.”

Click the audio player above to hear the full interview.