White House hires two economists to top Fed posts

White House hires two economists to top Fed posts

WASHINGTON — President Biden said on Friday he would nominate Adriana Kugler to a seat on the Federal Reserve Board and elevate Philip Jefferson, the current governor, to vice chairman of the central bank.

If confirmed by the Senate, the Fed will have its first Latino board member and its second black vice president, a move that could make the Fed more diversified and build its leadership team in a challenging economic time.

Biden chose Kugler, an economist with a background in labor economics who is of Colombian descent and is executive director of the World Bank in the United States, to fill the only vacant seat of Fed governor on his seven-member board. In a corresponding move, he promoted Mr. Jefferson, an economist who was overwhelmingly confirmed to the board when Mr. Biden nominated him for an open governorship, to be vice chairman of the Fed.

The New York Times previously reported on the expected nominations.

Lael Brainard, who became head of the White House National Economic Council under Biden earlier this year, was vice chairman of the Fed until February.

As the vice chairman of the Fed is one of seven governors, Brainard’s resignation left one governorship and the vice president office vacant. Mrs. Kugler will fill the vacant seat on the board, while Mr. Jefferson, who is already Fed governor, will be elevated to the leadership position.

The Biden administration needed to balance a complicated set of priorities when filling vacancies at the Fed, the world’s most powerful central bank. The administration is under pressure, especially from Senator Bob Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, to nominate a Latino or Latina to the Fed Board. And the Fed itself is in an exceptionally challenging juncture: it is trying to combat accelerating inflation with the most aggressive political campaign since the 1980s, which could come at a significant cost to the job market.

Biden also announced that he would nominate Lisa Cook, a Fed governor whose term will expire early next year, to another full 14-year term as a board member.

“These nominees understand that this work is non-partisan, but that it plays a critical role in seeking maximum employment, maintaining price stability, and overseeing many of our country’s financial institutions,” Biden said in a statement announcing the picks.

A Latino has never served on the Fed’s board in the central bank’s 109-year history, so Kugler’s nomination would be the first if it ended in confirmation. He would also add an official with considerable experience in labor economics: Ms. Kugler, who was an economist and administrator at Georgetown University, served as the Department of Labor’s chief economist during the Obama administration from 2011 to 2013.

She has worked in the economics departments of the University of Houston and the University Pompeu Fabra, in Barcelona, ​​​​and holds a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.

Menendez praised the decision in a statement on Friday and made it clear he would support the nominees.

“I, for one, will make it my personal mission to help secure quick confirmations for Jefferson, Cook and Kugler,” he said.

Jefferson, who took over at the Fed last May, is an economist who most recently served as a administrator at Davidson College and holds a doctorate in economics from the University of Virginia. During his tenure at the Fed, he built a reputation as an inquisitive listener with an interest in employee economic research.

Mr. Jefferson was born in Washington DC, in a neighborhood called Kingman Park. During his confirmation hearing to become Fed governor, he recalled that in his youth, “it was a place where the line between a successful future or a struggle was blurred.”

If confirmed, he would be the second black person to reach such a high position at the Fed, following Roger W. Ferguson Jr., an economist and business executive.


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