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NY Fed President Bill Dudley Retiring

The Federal Reserve's "smooth transition" from Janet Yellen to Jay Powell is set for a major speedbump.

Just two short days after Donald Trump confirmed what weekly trial balloons had reported for weeks, namely that Janet Yellen is being replaced with most "dovish" alternative possible in the face of former Carlyle partner and 5 year Fed governor Jerome Powell, the person who according to some is even more instrumental to Fed policy than Janet Yellen, NY Fed president Bill Dudley is reportedly leaving.

Late on Saturday evening, CNBC's Steve Liesman reported that Fed vice chairman Bill Dudley, a former Goldman managing director and chief economist, not to mention a key figure in "the unprecedented government response to the financial crisis", is set to join Janet Yellen among the ranks of the unemployed (if only until he hits the speaking circuit and writes a book explaining that the Fed is the cause of the world's problems) and announce his retirement as soon as next week. 

Dudley, who has has headed the bank since 2009, will likely retire sometime in the spring or summer of 2018 when his replacement is found and approved, sources told CNBC. His term ends in January 2019. A search committee has already been formed.

According to Liesman, Dudley told several colleagues he was planning to leave in 2018, "and his departure is said not to be related to the decision last week by President Donald Trump to name Fed Governor Jerome Powell as the next Fed Chairman." Which probably means that Dudley's departure is precisely that: a protest against Trump's removal of Yellen with whom Dudley had a pristine relationship.

Dudley, set to turn 65 next year, became NY Fed president in the immediate aftermath of the Great Financial Crisis and was instrumental in devising the Fed's ZIRP and QE policies.

As president of the New York Fed, Dudley holds a special spot among the dozen regional bank presidents. The incumbent always serves as vice chairman of the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) and always votes at policy meetings, while other regional presidents have a rotating vote. More importantly, before he became NY Fed president, Dudley headed the New York Fed's markets group - also known elsewhere as "the plunge protection team" - which Liesman describes as "a critical job that oversees the trades and market operations required to set the Federal Funds Rate." Liesman is right.

In both positions, Dudley was a principal player in Fed decisions concerning the demise of Lehman Brothers, AIG and Bear Stearns, along with emergency measures taken by the central bank to stanch a meltdown in the financial system.

Dudley's "list of accomplishments" is long: several trillion dollars long in fact. Under the former Goldman executive, the NY Fed was responsible for accumulating the trillions in assets the Fed purchased under QE, bringing its balance sheet up to $4.5 trillion. It is now responsible for the market operations underway to reduce the balance sheet.

Dudley's departure comes at a time of dramatic change at the Fed. in addition to a new Fed Chairman, Vice Chairman Stan Fischer left his post in October, and there are currently three open seats on the seven-member Board of Governors. That number may rise to four if Yellen leaves the board when Powell is confirmed, and before others are nominated and confirmed by the Senate.

The choice of Dudley's replacement will be made by the New York Fed's Board of Directors and approved by the Federal Reserve Board. Dudley is expected to speak at the economic club of new York at noon on monday.

With Dudley's departure, the Fed will lose one of its more prominent centrists as the following Dove-Hawk ranking from Barclays shows.