Two Senate Votes Advance Biden Goal of Greater Diversity at Fed

(Bloomberg) -- The Senate confirmed the second Black American to serve as the Federal Reserve’s vice chair in its 109-year history, and further boosted the institution’s diversity by confirming its first Black female governor for a full 14-year term.

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Philip Jefferson — the fourth Black male governor at the US central bank — will be the second Black vice chair after Roger Ferguson and was confirmed in a 88-10 vote Wednesday. Lisa Cook — who President Joe Biden named as a governor on the board last year and whose current term expires in January — was endorsed for a full term in a 51-47 vote on Wednesday evening.

Biden is taking steps to address the demographic makeup of the Fed’s leadership, which is still overwhelmingly White and male. In May, he nominated Adriana Kugler, a Colombian-American economist who is currently the US representative to the World Bank, to a vacant position on the board of governors.

If confirmed by the Senate Thursday to the slot previously held by top Biden adviser Lael Brainard, she’d be the first Latina to serve on the board.

Jefferson, 61, has backed every Fed interest-rate decision since he joined the board last year. In that time, the central bank undertook the most aggressive cycle of borrowing-cost increases in a generation to counteract the rise of inflation. The new vice chair also signaled a likely pause in hikes before the Fed’s decision in June to hold rates steady.

All three economists have voiced their commitment to the bank’s determination to keep hold the line on prices in public remarks over the past 12 months.

“The American economy is at a critical juncture, and it will be essential for the FOMC to act as needed to bring inflation back to our 2% inflation target,” Cook said in a confirmation hearing in June, referring to the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee.

Earlier: Fed’s Lisa Cook Confirmed by Senate to 14-Year Term as Governor

Both Jefferson and Cook also support tailoring bank regulations as the Fed considers higher capital requirements in the wake of bank failures, including Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse earlier this year. Many congressional Republicans have expressed concerns that new bank regulations could go too far and weaken the economy.

Over the course of his career, Jefferson has been an economist at the Fed, an economics professor and dean at Davidson College and chair of the economics department at Swarthmore College. He holds a master’s and a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.

Before joining the Fed, Cook received a doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley and was a professor of economics and international relations at Michigan State University. A Georgia native, she has a wide-ranging intellect that’s taken her through coursework in philosophy to a position in the Obama White House.

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