For close watchers of the Federal Reserve, trying to make sense of the flood of speeches, interviews, and other remarks emerging from the central bank in any given week can feel akin to a game of Whac-A-Mole. You’ve just begun to digest one official’s commentary when up pops another one to offer a different—and sometimes conflicting—take.
Given its unmatched sway over the economy, it’s tempting to view the Fed as a single-minded force. But in reality, the bank isn’t a monolith. Rather, it’s an organization where policy is shaped by a group of 19 very human individuals, and it’s structured in a way that encourages its power dynamics to shift from year to year. Chairman Jerome Powell may be first among equals, but each of those 19 participants on the Federal Open Market Committee has a voice—if not always a vote—and anyone who uses it publicly has the potential to move markets and change the financial weather.