By Jonathan Spicer and Ann Saphir
(Reuters) - Two regional Federal Reserve banks have taken steps to replace their hawkish presidents, Charles Plosser and Richard Fisher, whose departures early next year could change the tenor of debate within the U.S. central bank's policy-setting committee.
The Philadelphia Fed said on Thursday it had hired executive search firm Korn Ferry to find a successor to Plosser, 66, who will retire on March 1 after more than eight years at the helm. A committee of Philadelphia Fed directors working with Korn Ferry will consider "a diverse group of candidates from inside and outside" the Fed, it said.
Fisher, 65, will retire by April after about a decade as the Dallas Fed's president.
Last month, Fisher told Reuters he assembled an advisory committee to search for his successor consisting of three former chairmen of the Dallas Fed – Hunt Oil's Ray Hunt, who hired Fisher in 2005; Southwest Airlines co-founder and former CEO Herb Kelleher; and Jim Hackett, former CEO of Andarko Petroleum. The Dallas Fed's current board chair, Mike Ullman, and its vice chair, Renu Khator, are also on the committee.
Plosser and Fisher, both members of the Fed's policy-making committee this year, have been strident advocates of ratcheting down the central bank's extraordinary stimulus in the post-financial crisis era.
Despite having dissented against a September policy decision to telegraph ultra-low interest rates for a long while to come, Plosser and Fisher on Wednesday backed the Fed's latest policy statement, which struck an optimistic tone on inflation and the labor market.
Under mandatory retirement rules, Fisher needs to retire by the end of April, while Plosser could have stayed on until 2016.
(Reporting by Jonathan Spicer and Ann Saphir; Editing by Paul Simao)