President Joe Biden is faced with a big question that could shape the post-pandemic economy: should he reappoint Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell or replace him with someone who fits with Democratic policy goals?

Presidents since at least Ronald Reagan have appointed or retained nominees chosen by the other party, but this tradition went out the window with former President Donald Trump, who selected Powell to lead the central bank and replaced Janet Yellen. 

Powell, whose term ends in early 2022, is something of a monetary dove, who treads cautiously when it comes to raising interest rates. He is widely respected as a steady hand and has mostly earned the markets' trust. He has also actively avoided politics in the face of pressure from Trump to shift policy, a move that would have undermined the central bank’s integrity as an independent actor.

Biden is not known to be familiar with Powell in any personal sense, but there is a chance he is unlikely to want to rock the boat during an economic recovery from the pandemic. Amid fears of inflation, a slowdown from COVID-19’s Delta variant, and falling approval ratings of his handling of the pandemic, retaining Powell could make for an easy choice.

However, Democrats have shown some splits over whether or not they would support keeping Powell at the helm of the Fed. To those in the progressive wing of the party, Powell is not seen as aggressive enough when it comes to utilizing the Fed’s regulatory powers to curb excessive risk on Wall Street, to combat climate change or address inequality.

Some Democrats and left-leaning outside groups have pushed Federal Reserve board member Lael Brainard as a possible replacement. Brainard, who served in the Treasury Department during Bill Clinton’s administration, has been put forward as a nominee more in line with Biden’s view of economic policy and a familiar face to Wall Street.

Brainard is reportedly not actively lobbying for the position because she does not want any perceived leadership competition with Powell to rattle the markets.

But Powell has his supporters among Democrats. Sen. John Tester, D-Mont., has praised him for helping guide the economic recovery. Powell also received a nod for reappointment from former congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts and former Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut -- the two architects of the eponymous Dodd-Frank Act that aimed to improve regulation over the financial system after the Great Recession.

In an op-ed in The Hill, Frank and Dodd maintained that Powell would be politically effective for Democrats and a welcome reassurance to markets.

"Immediately, for moderate Democrats, Powell offers both a much bigger shield against conservative accusations of fiscal irresponsibility than the same actions coming from a newly appointed liberal," they wrote, before adding that it  "also provides reassurance for those genuinely worried about rising prices."